Russia has accused the associates of opposition figure Alexei Navalny of treason for pushing the West to consider possible sanctions against the Kremlin over his imprisonment.
A team of Russian opposition figures held an online meeting with representatives of Western countries in Poland’s permanent mission to the European Union (EU) on Monday. Diplomats from more than 20 countries, including Britain, the United States, Canada, and Ukraine, attended the two-hour meeting.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the team of the Russian figures “traitors” who held talks with people “who see Russia either [as] an adversary or an enemy or an aggressor.”
“This is what our so-called Western partners are doing,” she said on Tuesday. “They’re continuing an absolutely illegitimate, illegal, and aggressive attack on us.”
The head of Navalny’s regional network, Leonid Volkov, said they had discussed imposing restrictions on “Russian oligarchs linked to President Vladimir Putin” with the foreign representatives.
An ally of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny told Russians to gather in their residential courtyards across Russia late on Sunday and to hold up their mobile-phone lights in a sign of support for the jailed opposition politician https://t.co/n0zGUJyPNS— Reuters (@Reuters) February 9, 2021
“These sanctions are in the name of and in the interests of Russia,” he asserted.
Zakharova also criticized Poland, Germany, and Sweden for the expulsion of Russian diplomats in retaliation for a similar move earlier by Moscow.
Russia expelled diplomats from the three EU countries for their participation in unauthorized rallies in support of Navalny in Moscow.
A court in Moscow sentenced Navalny to three and a half years in prison last week for breaking the terms of a suspended sentence he had received seven years ago for an embezzlement case.
Last month, Russian police detained Navalny on arrival at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport from Germany, five months after he was transferred to a hospital in Berlin to be treated for what the West alleged had been a nerve agent attack by Russia.
Moscow has repeatedly rejected the allegations, saying the West is exploiting the case for political reasons and using it as a pretext to impose more sanctions against Russia.
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