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Sep 16, 2020
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Act without evidence: what is behind the words of EU leaders about the European analogue of the Magnitsky law

The European Commission will propose a draft law similar to the American Magnitsky law, according to which it will be possible to impose sanctions for violations of human rights in the world. This was stated by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. The day before, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said that the new regime of sanctions for violations of human rights can be named after the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Experts note that, as in the situation with the Skripal case in 2018, European politicians are ready to impose new sanctions against Russia without any evidence.

The European Commission will propose a bill similar to the American Magnitsky law, according to which it will be possible to impose sanctions for human rights violations. This was stated by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in her annual address to the members of the European Parliament.

“This parliament has repeatedly called for the creation of a European (analogue) of the Magnitsky Law - and I can announce that now we will come up with a certain initiative. Our toolbox needs to be made complete, ”said von der Leyen.

She also suggested changing the form of voting on sanctions and moving to a qualified majority vote rather than unanimously. She motivated this by the fact that in the event of a question of violation of human rights, Europe will be able to indicate its position in a short period of time.

Also, von der Leyen said that the incident with the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is not an isolated one. According to her, European politicians who expect that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline connecting Germany and Russia will help improve the tense situation in relations between the EU and the Russian Federation are mistaken.

“For those who are in favor of closer relations with Russia, I will say the following: the poisoning of Alexei Navalny with an advanced poisonous substance is not an isolated case. We observed actions along the same lines in Georgia and Ukraine, in Syria and Salisbury, as well as during election interference around the world. This scheme remains unchanged, ”said the President of the European Commission.

The day before, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, also during a speech in the European Parliament, said that in response to the situation with Navalny, a regime of sanctions for human rights violations would be adopted, similar to the Magnitsky law. Borrell stressed that he launched work on such a global sanctions regime since the beginning of his inauguration.

“I hope that what happened to Mr. Navalny will induce the member states to move from discussion to action and approve this sanctions regime aimed at protecting human rights, which, by analogy with the law known in America as the Magnitsky law, we could call the“ Navalny sanctions regime ". This could be a good way to comprehend what happened and document for the future the connection between the name of Mr. Navalny and the regime of sanctions against those responsible for violating human rights, ”the politician said.

"Poisoning" without proof

Recall that the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was hospitalized in Omsk on August 20 after he became ill on board the plane. The doctors at the hospital where Navalny was taken, based on the results of the examination, diagnosed a metabolic disorder, which led to a sharp change in blood sugar levels. It was not possible to establish its cause, but no poisons or toxic substances were found in the oppositionist's body.

At the request of the Navalny family, he was taken to Germany for treatment, where he was taken under state protection to the Charite clinic. On September 2, the FRG authorities, citing German military doctors, said that the Russian oppositionist had allegedly been poisoned with poison from the Novichok group.

  • Head of European Diplomacy Josep Borrell
  • Reuters
  • © Yves Herman

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the Russian authorities to provide explanations in connection with this incident. She stated that Navalny was a victim of a crime, and the poison in his body was definitely identified.

Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov noted that Moscow is ready for comprehensive cooperation with the FRG to clarify this situation. He stressed that Berlin did not give answers to the official inquiries sent by Russia, and during the examination of Navalny in Omsk, no toxic substances were found.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova noted on September 6 that the German authorities actually ignored Moscow's requests, the first of which was sent to Berlin on August 27. She stressed that the FRG authorities are thus hindering the investigation process.

Later, the head of the German Foreign Ministry, Heiko Maas, did not rule out the imposition of sanctions in connection with the situation with Alexei Navalny, including the suspension of the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project.

In addition, Josep Borrell also spoke about the likelihood of pan-European sanctions, who said that the EU reserves the right to impose restrictive measures.

In turn, the Russian side has repeatedly called not to politicize the situation with Navalny. On September 12, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that if new sanctions are introduced due to the situation with Navalny, Moscow will act on the principle of reciprocity and will not leave them unanswered.

Going beyond

Sergei Lavrov, commenting on the statements of Western politicians about the situation with the Russian opposition, said on September 14 that Russia's foreign partners had crossed "all decency" and the framework of reason.

“According to Navalny, it seems to me that our Western partners have simply gone beyond all decency, all the frames of reason. In fact, we are now being asked to confess. We are told: “Don't you believe the German specialists of the Bundeswehr? How can this be? Their findings are confirmed by the French and the Swedes. Don't you believe us? " - said Lavrov.

The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry recalled that the EU insistently demanded from Moscow to open a criminal case and conduct an investigation into the poisoning of Navalny, while there is now no legal basis for this. Sergei Lavrov added that “everyone is fixated on the criminal case,” while the German authorities refused to transfer the materials necessary for its initiation to the Russian side without the consent of the Navalny family.

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
  • RIA News
  • © Press Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Vladimir Olenchenko, senior researcher at the Center for European Studies, IMEMO RAN, noted that the statements of the EU leaders about their intention to adopt the Navalny Law indicate the lack of independence of a united Europe in foreign policy.

“The situation is quite absurd, far-fetched, artificial, and deliberately not born in European minds. Even the very desire to make a certain law modeled on the Magnitsky Act undermines the credibility of the EU because it was coined and adopted in the US. At best, we're talking about a clumsy attempt to emulate American politics. The current leadership of the EU is showing less and less independence, ”the expert emphasized.

At the same time, there is no evidence of Navalny's poisoning as such, otherwise they would have been made public, Vladimir Olenchenko noted.

“Since Russia demands proofs, the EU removes the whole situation from the subject plane into a propaganda one. And in the propaganda plane, they use various undertakings such as statements on sanctions, which do not help to clarify and improve the situation, ”the political scientist added.

In turn, political scientist Alexander Asafov, commenting on the dynamics of what is happening around Alexei Navalny and the actions of European politicians, noted that this case is identical with the scandal about the poisoning in Great Britain of a former employee of the Russian special services Sergei Skripal - when, on the basis of unsubstantiated charges, a pretext was created to introduce new restrictive measures against Moscow.

“The current situation with Navalny repeats one to one the case of the Skripal poisoning, when no evidence was presented either. Russia's opinion and position on what is happening is actively ignored. Moscow is not given the opportunity to prove its case and does not cooperate in the investigation. The goal of European politicians is to impose sanctions, not to sort out the case. The essence of the matter is not very important for them, ”the expert concluded.

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