European Parliament Resolution on Alexei Navalny: Implications and Actions

2024-02-29 18:56:50

The European Parliament adopted resolutionthe text of which directly states that Alexei Navalny was killed, and the Russian authorities and Russian President Vladimir Putin personally bear responsibility for his murder.

The resolution was supported by 506 MEPs, nine voted against, and another 32 abstained.

Here are the main points from the resolution (the full text is available to Meduza):

  • The Russian government and Vladimir Putin personally bear criminal and political responsibility for the murder of their main opponent Alexei Navalny, and in such circumstances there is reason to raise the question of Vladimir Putin’s legitimacy.
  • The European Parliament expresses its condolences to the family of Alexei Navalny and his colleagues, as well as “his countless supporters throughout Russia,” and expresses support for Yulia Navalny in her desire to continue the work begun by her husband, as well as the Anti-Corruption Foundation that Alexei Navalny founded.
  • Expresses respect for Alexei Navalny as a political leader who, “thanks to his courage, charisma and ability to unite people, achieved what others have tried to achieve, but few have succeeded.”
  • The European Parliament calls on the Russian authorities to allow the family of Alexei Navalny to bury his body in the order his relatives wish, and also demands “an independent and transparent international investigation into the exact circumstances of the death of Alexei Navalny and the identification of those responsible.”
  • The European Parliament demands that the “political leadership of Russia” be held accountable and sanctions be imposed against people involved in the criminal prosecution of Alexei Navalny.
  • The European Parliament expresses solidarity with all people in Russia and beyond who, despite “totalitarian repression,” continue to “tell the truth and fight for a democratic and peaceful future for Russia.”
  • Condemns the escalating human rights abuses by the Russian regime and condemns the ongoing repression of government critics, human rights defenders, anti-war and environmental activists and independent journalists, as well as the increasing suppression of LGBTQ communities. Calls on the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an immediate investigation into the imprisonment, torture and murder of political opponents; stresses that the murder of Alexei Navalny serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to counter the repressive policies pursued by the Russian regime and take a strong stance against such actions.
  • The European Parliament calls on the European Union to assist in the creation of a human rights group to monitor cases of human rights violations in Russia.
  • The European Parliament demands the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Russia. Among them are Vladimir Kara-Murza, Yuri Dmitriev, Ilya Yashin, Alexey Gorinov, Liliya Chanysheva, Ksenia Fadeeva, Vadim Ostanin, Daniel Kholodny, Victoria Petrova, Maria Ponomarenko, Sasha Skochilenko, Svetlana Petriychuk, Zhenya Berkovich, Dmitry Ivanov, Ioann Kurmoyarov, Igor Baryshnikov, Dmitry Talantov, Alexey Moskalev and Ivan Safronov, Vadim Kobzev, Alexey Liptser, Igor Sergunin.
  • The European Parliament calls on the Russian authorities to “immediately stop the use of torture.”
  • Calls for increased efforts to find viable ways to release the most affected political prisoners, especially those with illnesses or those who have been subjected to torture, including the option of a possible prisoner exchange.
  • Calls on the Russian authorities to “immediately release hundreds of detainees who peacefully paid tribute to the memory of Alexei Navalny.”
  • Calls for repeal of repressive laws, including those that involve “censorship of truthful information about Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine,” as well as laws on so-called “foreign agents” and “undesirable organizations.”
  • Calls on EU member states to expand and facilitate the humanitarian visa program for Russian human rights defenders, and pro-democracy activists and independent journalists who are at risk of political persecution.
  • Calls for avoiding the unreasonable and disproportionate use of restrictive measures against persons seeking asylum from the current Russian government and fighting against it.
  • Calls for easier processes for Russian dissidents to register organizations and legal entities in the EU, open bank accounts and carry out other administrative needs so that they can continue their work in exile.
  • Condemns the “imperialist and neo-colonial policies of the Russian regime” and condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine; reiterates that the European Union and its like-minded partners around the world must continue to provide political, economic and military support to Ukraine.
  • Commits to continually combat the Russian regime’s violations of its Constitution and international law, including the elections on March 17, 2024, taking into account the fact that these elections are expected to take place in the occupied territories of Ukraine and in the context of increased suppression of political pluralism and the media.

Meduza spoke with a freelance adviser to the Bulgarian delegation of the European Parliament and consultant to the Free Russia Foundation, Petar Tanev, who participated in promoting the draft resolution. He told how the resolution was adopted and how it differs fundamentally from previous ones.

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Alexei Navalny was killed on Friday, February 16. The very next week, the European Parliament began to discuss the possibility of Yulia Navalnaya’s arrival. For some time there were discussions about the format of the speech—whether to make a resolution based on its results, or limit it to a statement. For example, Sergey Lagodinsky (German politician of Russian origin, member of the European Parliament – approx. “Jellyfish”), advocated that this should be a resolution. There was some discussion about the name of the resolution – it is clear that the main emphasis should be placed on the fact of Navalny’s murder, but it was necessary to understand what to do next with Russian political prisoners who continue to be in prison and with civil society, which is subject to repression, whose problems are discussed Yulia Navalnaya spoke in her speech to the EU Council of Ministers. I can say that for members of the European Parliament, the murder of Navalny became a kind of trigger – they began to pay more attention to the problems of civil society in Russia, and the need for a new approach to supporting the EU, as can be seen from the resolution.

The European Parliament calls on member states to avoid the unjustified and disproportionate use of restrictive measures for those seeking asylum from the regime in Russia – in particular, it is proposed to simplify the procedure and expand the program for issuing humanitarian visas for human rights defenders, activists and journalists and introduce multiple-entry visas for these groups on a large scale European Union.

For the first time, the resolution mentions the problem with bank accounts. Support for Russian political prisoners and civil society, problems with opening accounts for those who were forced to leave Russia – this was not previously officially recorded by the European Parliament. This is an important step that will help us move on.

The resolution contains several paragraphs about future elections in Russia. For example, the European Parliament takes into account the fact that anti-war candidates were denied participation in the elections and a transparent, democratic, both electoral and political process in Russia is incompatible with the ongoing repression, which culminated in the murder of a major opposition leader in Russia.

The European Parliament emphasizes that Vladimir Putin personally and the Russian government bear criminal and political responsibility for the murder of Navalny – and in such circumstances, the question of Putin’s legitimacy will need to be raised in international discourse. Additionally, it is stated that the European Parliament undertakes to respond to violations by the Russian state of its own constitution, including in the elections of March 17, 2024.

There have never been such statements regarding Russia before. In general, the European Parliament resolution is intended to differentiate the Russian civil society subject to repression and the regime that currently exists in the country. I hope that this will allow the Council of the EU to further develop a renewed approach to the development of sanctions policy, distinguishing between civil society and the regime targeted by these sanctions.

Alexei Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova, who was forced to leave Russia due to criminal prosecution, also participated in promoting the resolution.

Here’s what she told Meduza:

That unprecedented attack on Navalny’s lawyers, which occurred on October 13, 2023, as a result of which they were accused of participating in the extremist community of the Anti-Corruption Foundation and Navalny, and the courts ordered their detention, indicates Russia’s return to the rules of 1937- year. Even in Soviet times, lawyers were not accused of political charges against their clients and were not imprisoned.

Four months after this attack, the murder of our client, Alexei Navalny, followed.

At our suggestion, a clause was added to the resolution about the need to support lawyers and jurists working in Russia – because they are soldiers who are now working on the front line and taking all the blows.

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