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In non-binding resolution, EU parliament calls for new anti-Russia sanctions that would stop Nord Stream 2 over Navalny’s arrest

The EU member states should take “an active stance” on Navalny’s 30-day arrest in Russia. This is according to a non-binding resolution adopted on Thursday, with 581 votes in favor, 50 against and 44 abstentions.

The list of “significantly tighter” restrictions the European nations are encouraged to impose against Moscow includes personal sanctions against anyone involved “in the decision to arrest and imprison” the opposition figure, who returned to Russia on January 17 following an almost six-month-long treatment in Germany after an apparent poisoning during a trip to Siberia.

The resolution went further, suggesting EU states should target Russian “oligarchs,” members of President Vladimir Putin’s “inner circle” and “Russian media propagandists” as well. “Additional restrictive measures could also be taken under the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime,” a statement published by the EU parliament says.

Another step suggested by the MEPs is putting a stop to the Russian gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2 “once and for all.” The multinational project, which would deliver Russian gas to Europe and particularly to Germany, is currently under construction despite fierce opposition from Washington, which calls it a threat to America’s and Europe’s security interests.

Now, a day after new US President Joe Biden has been sworn into office, the EU parliament resolution calls on the bloc’s member states to “immediately stop the completion of the controversial pipeline.” It would be an ideal moment to “strengthen transatlantic unity in protecting democracy and fundamental values against authoritarian regimes,” the text asserts.

Several European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have repeatedly criticized the US pressure, arguing that Washington is interfering in Europe’s internal affairs to advance its own interests, namely to sell its own liquefied natural gas.

Earlier this week, Russian energy giant Gazprom informed Nord Stream 2 investors that the project could be suspended, even cancelled, after the US told Germany it was imposing new measures based on the CAATSA law (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).

Berlin said it could tax American gas imports in response to Washington’s move.

As for the “immediate release” of Navalny – another demand put forward by the EU parliament – it is unlikely to have any effect, since Moscow has already said it would not heed outside calls for the opposition figure’s release.

Navalny is currently accused of violating the terms of a suspended sentence. The opposition figure is facing charges over violation of probation terms related to a previous criminal case. In 2014, he received a three-and-a-half-year sentence, suspended for five years, for embezzling 30 million rubles ($400,000) from two companies, including French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher.

His sentence was then extended for another year and was due to expire in late December 2020 but he missed a scheduled check-in with a probation office in Russia while he was in Germany earlier the same month. The Russian penal service then demanded his arrest, arguing the move was deliberate as Navalny’s medical papers from Germany showed he had already recovered by that time.

Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s official spokesman, said earlier that the case is a matter for the Russian prison service and does not require any special intervention from the government.

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