France urges Russia to immediately release Navalny

by AFP

PARIS – France on Sunday called for Russian authorities to immediately free Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny (picture), adding to a wave of Western condemnation following his detention at a Moscow airport. 

“France notes the arrest of Mr. Alexei Navalny in Russia with very strong concern,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Along with its European partners, it is following his situation with the greatest vigilance and calls for his immediate release.” 

The statement echoed calls for Navalny’s release from President-elect Joe Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, and European Council president Charles Michel.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called for EU sanctions against Moscow, while Amnesty International accused Russian authorities of waging “a relentless campaign” to silence Navalny.

The anti-corruption campaigner was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday less than an hour after flying in from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poisoning attack that nearly killed him.

Navalny says the poisoning was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin denies any involvement.