Russia went a long way in capturing opposition leader Navalny upon his arrival. The vast majority of European Union countries think so. The foreign ministers are meeting today in Brussels and it is very likely that they will announce new sanctions against Russia.
Sanctions will be imposed on people who have been implicated in human rights violations in Russia. These could be police officers who arrested Navalny, judges who have sentenced him or people who recently participated in the suppression of protests in Russia. Their bank balances will be frozen and they will no longer obtain visas to travel to the European Union.
This may sound like a difficult approach, but it is not what the now imprisoned Navalny wants. He spoke with members of the European Parliament at the end of November and called on Brussels to announce sanctions against the wealthy Russian oligarchs. Navalny argues that if they can no longer dock their luxury yachts in the ports of Monaco and Barcelona, they will put pressure on Putin to change course.
A great embarrassment
This path may seem logical, but according to EU diplomats, it remains difficult to implement in practice. Thanks to a Dutch initiative, it has recently become possible to impose European Union sanctions on the basis of human rights violations. However, the people targeted by these sanctions must be directly involved in these violations. This does not apply to the oligarchy.
If the Russians are on the sanctions list and have nothing to do with Navalny’s arrest or the suppression of protests, they can appeal their sentences to the European Court. If such a case were missed, it would be a huge blot on the European Union. So EU countries really want to limit the list to people who can be found to have recently violated human rights.
The problem is that EU sanctions will not necessarily affect judges or local police severely. Diplomats in Brussels say that due to the threat of European sanctions, not all judges are willing to participate in show trials.
This is a benefit for the European Union, but at the same time threats from the Kremlin will have a much greater impact on their lives for most Russians than threats from Brussels. If the sanctions-listed Russian police officers or judges do not travel to the European Union in any case, they will not be denied a visa. The question is also whether these groups have European bank balances.
NOS op 3 previously made this video about Navalny: