Kremlin dismisses calls for sanctions over Navalny detention

Russian police officers escorting opposition leader Alexei Navalny (centre) in Khimki, Russia, on Jan 18, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - The Kremlin said on Tuesday (Jan 19) that it would not heed calls by some Western countries for sanctions over Russia's detention of poisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny because his case was a purely domestic matter.

Mr Navalny was detained on Sunday after flying back to Russia for the first time since he was attacked with a military-grade nerve agent last summer while travelling in Russia's east, and has urged Russians to take to the streets in protest.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia want the European Union to respond with sanctions against Moscow.

"We hear these statements, but we cannot and don't plan to take these into account," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

"This is about a Russian citizen not complying with Russian law. This is an absolutely domestic matter and we will not allow anyone to interfere in it."

Mr Peskov said Mr Navalny had genuine questions to answer about violating his parole conditions for a suspended prison sentence.

He has been placed in pre-trial detention for 30 days.

In 2014, he received a 3½ year suspended sentence for embezzlement, in a case that he says was fabricated for political reasons.

Mr Peskov also dismissed as nonsense the notion that President Vladimir Putin fears Mr Navalny.

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"Different statements about someone being afraid of someone else are absolutely nonsense," he said.

Mr Peskov said Mr Navalny's calls for Russians to take to the streets over his detention were alarming, but that the Kremlin did not fear mass protests.

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