Instead of rushing to condemn the detention of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny upon his return to Moscow, foreign politicians should focus on domestic issues at hand and respect the Russian law, Maria Zakharova has said.
In a Facebook post on Sunday evening, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to US President-elect Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who demanded that Moscow “immediately releases” Navalny after he was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport upon his return from Germany earlier that day.
Apart from calling for Navalny to be set free, Sullivan also accused the Russian government of violating the opposition figure’s human rights, describing his detention as “an affront to the Russian people who want their voices heard.”
Zakharova warned Sullivan and “other foreign public figures who are rushing to post pre-prepared comments” against an attempt to influence the Russian judicial system, suggesting they focus on their problems at home instead.
“Have respect for international law, do not interfere with the national law of [other] sovereign countries, and deal with your own domestic problems,” she wrote.
Following Sullivan’s comments, a number of other foreign officials and organizations also demanded Navalny’s release. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio called his detention “a very serious matter,” while French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said Paris is “concerned” about the arrest. Amnesty International echoed the calls, labeling Navalny “a prisoner of conscience.”
Navalny, wanted in Russia for breaching the terms of his probation following a previous criminal case, was detained at the immigration desk soon after the plane carrying him, his wife Yulia and the rest of the passengers touched down. Navalny had spent five months in Germany before his return. In August 2020, he was flown from an Omsk hospital in Siberia to Berlin’s Charite clinic in a coma after collapsing on a domestic flight a few days earlier.
German doctors claimed that Navalny had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent. However, doctors in the Omsk Emergency Hospital, who treated the activist immediately after he became incapacitated, said they found no traces of toxic substances in his system. The hospital’s chief toxicologist noted that other people who traveled with Navalny should have suffered from the fallout as well, if the politician had actually been poisoned with the “military-grade” nerve agent. This was not the case, however.
The Russian authorities have repeatedly asked Berlin to provide them with medical data on Navalny, but to no avail. Moscow’s requests to conduct a joint investigation into the incident have also been ignored.