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EU leaders call on Russia to release Navalny

January 21, 2021 GMT
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FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2018, file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, centre, attends a rally in Moscow, Russia. Navalny is an anti-corruption campaigner and the Kremlin’s fiercest critic. He has outlasted many opposition figures and is undeterred by incessant attempts to stop his work. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman, File)
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FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2018, file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, centre, attends a rally in Moscow, Russia. Navalny is an anti-corruption campaigner and the Kremlin’s fiercest critic. He has outlasted many opposition figures and is undeterred by incessant attempts to stop his work. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union used a video summit of its 27 leaders Thursday to call on Russia to immediately release opposition leader Alexei Navalny and make sure that his rights are fully respected.

Navalny was arrested last Sunday at a Moscow airport as he tried to enter the country from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.

EU summit host Charles Michel said the leaders “expect Russia to urgently proceed with the independent and transparent investigation into the attack on his life.”

Michel also insisted that Moscow “fully cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to ensure an impartial international investigation” is carried out into the attack.

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Russia came under renewed pressure after Navalny’s arrest to explain the nerve agent attack on the opposition figure s the annual meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog.

Police on Thursday also took into custody two top associates of Navalny ahead of planned protests against his detention.