Russia is ignoring EU and US calls to free jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, who after recovering in Berlin for months after an alleged poisoning in August which he's blamed on Russian intelligence upon orders from Putin flew back to Moscow Sunday. He was sentence to serve 30 days in jail for probation violation on Monday by a Moscow court. He's now being held in Moscow's notorious Matrosskaya Tishina prison.
The 44-year old opposition politician appears to be attempting to lead a one man revolution and score-settling of sorts given he's now publicizing "lists" of Russians who should be sanctioned if he's not released.
According to Bloomberg he "identified eight people as potential targets for punitive measures, including billionaire Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich and tycoon Alisher Usmanov as well as top officials, in a list released by a close associate of the activist." Via Vladimir Ashurkov's Facebook page...
Imprisoning a man for missing parole meetings while he was recovering from being poisoned and who bravely returned to Russia is outrageous and farcical. Pushing this further, keeping Alexey detained or accusing him of more crimes must have consequences.
Alexey and our team have been for years advocating individual sanctions against perpetrators of abuse of human rights, the election system, and law enforcement in Russia, as well as corrupt officials and businessmen. Shortly before Alexey flew back to Russia, we had a discussion about why sanctions aren’t working. He said that sanctions aren’t working because the West has refrained from sanctioning the people with the money. It is not enough to sanction the operatives who just follow orders in arresting and assassinating dissidents. The West must sanction the decision makers and the people who hold their money. Nothing less will make an impact on the behavior of the Russian authorities.
Just a few days before Alexey boarded his flight to Moscow, we agreed on a list of people he felt should be sanctioned if the West wanted to get serious about encouraging Russia to cease attacking human rights and to rein in corruption. He also identified the top eight people on his list.
When Alexey gave me his list, it had nothing to do with him or his return. He expected me to bring the list to the attention of Western governments and work slowly towards a more rational and effective way of weakening the corrupt Putin regime and encouraging better behavior.
However, with Alexey’s arrest and the regime threatening to imprison him for years, I have decided that the best use of Alexey’s list at this time is to make it public.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I call for Western governments to review this list and make it known that they will sanction people from it if Alexey is not immediately released.
Roman Abramovich - one of the key enablers and beneficiaries of Russian kleptocracy, with significant ties/assets in the West.
Denis Bortnikov – Deputy President and Chairman of VTB Bank Management Board. He is the son of Alexander Bortnikov, FSB director and a key ally of Vladimir Putin, and he has been acting as a “wallet” for his father’s ill-gotten gains.
Andrey Kostin - President and Chairman of the Management Board of state-owned VTB Bank, a key facilitator of corrupt money flows related to the functioning of the Russian government and security services.
Mikhail Murashko – Minister of Healthcare of Russia, responsible for covering up Alexey’s poisoning and hindering efforts to evacuate him to Germany for medical treatment.
Dmitry Patrushev – Minister of Agriculture of Russia. He is the son of Nikolai Patrushev, director of the Security Council of Russia and a key ally of Vladimir Putin, and he has been acting as a “wallet” for his father’s ill-gotten gains.
Igor Shuvalov – Chairman of the State Development Corporation VEB.RF, a former senior government official, who has been instrumental in creating the system of state corruption, which took over the Russian political and legislative institutions.
Vladimir Solovyev – a key Russian state media personality, one of the primary mouthpieces of authoritarian propaganda.
Alisher Usmanov - one of the key enablers and beneficiaries of Russian kleptocracy, with significant ties/assets in the West.
He's also calling on supporters to take to the streets in Russia en masse - something which so far has failed to materialize, other than the gathering of some couple hundreds who showed up to the airport to greet his return to Russian soil.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of mounting pressure from European officials to free Navalny immediately: "We don’t intend to take this international opinion into account."
Here's more on the bizarre attempt to put a target list of 'bad actors' who should be punished put out by Navalny and his supporters:
In addition to the billionaires, Navalny’s list of top sanctions candidates includes VTB Bank Chief Executive Officer Andrey Kostin, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko and prominent adult children of Putin allies.
"I call for Western governments to review this list and make it known that they will sanction people from it if Alexey is not immediately released," Navalny ally Vladimir Ashurkov wrote in Facebook.
Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said early this week that "It’s clear that further clampdown on the opposition leader is taking place in Moscow."
"There’s concern among many capitals, perhaps only the level of concern varies," Landsbergis added. However, currently given no evidence of a groundswell of support on the streets for Navalny anywhere (whether inside Russia or outside, other than officials in Western governments), the whole saga of his homecoming doesn't look to be having the intended effect.