The Canadian Department of International Affairs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) confirmed, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, that it imposed new sanctions on nine Russian officials for “gross and systematic violations of human rights in Russia, considering that this comes within the framework of a diplomatic effort to put pressure on senior Russian officials.” Concerning the “attempted murder” and detention of a prominent dissident Alexey Navalny And treatment of Russian protesters, while Moscow pledged to respond in kind.
Navalny was arrested earlier this year, upon his return to Russia, from Germany where he was recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent used for military purposes.
To put pressure on Moscow
Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Garneau said in a statement, “Canada will continue to pressure the Russian government to unconditionally release Navalny and his supporters whom it is holding in violation of the law.”
He added, “Russia’s gross human rights violations will not go unpunished.”
The same spokesman made it clear that Canada’s sanctions are in line with previous steps taken by the European Union and the United States.
Russia vows to respond
On the other hand, the Russian presidency (the Kremlin) considered, on Wednesday, the recent Canadian sanctions against Russia as “illegal”, confirming that “they will be answered.” This was stated by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in a press conference, according to the website “Russia Today”. ” the local.
In response to a question about whether Russia will take steps in response to the Canadian sanctions, Peskov said, “Yes, the sanctions will be answered.”
The sanctions included 9 officials involved, according to Canadian authorities, in the alleged “poisoning” of the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and his prosecution, including the director of the Federal Security Service, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Authority for the Implementation of Sanctions Alexander Kalashnikov, the First Vice President of the Russian Presidential Court Sergey Kiriyenko, and Deputy General Igor Krasnov.
Clamping down on freedoms
A Russian court imposed house arrest on a number of the most prominent opposition figures in the country, on charges of violating safety rules related to the Coronavirus, while it appeared as an attempt by the government to exploit the restrictions imposed, to silence its opponents, according to a report by The New York Times, published Friday, March 19. / March 2021.
According to the same source, this legal measure, known as the “health issue”, targeted 10 opposition politicians and dissidents, including the senior leadership of Alexei Navalny and members of the “Pussy Riot” protest group, and everyone was charged with inciting others to violate the rules imposed in the spring. The past to curb the spread of the Corona virus, which their lawyers denied.
On the one hand, the plaintiffs say that their social media posts calling for a protest in Moscow in January led to the presence of 19 people who were legally required to quarantine home due to positive Covid-19 test results. This puts the others in attendance at risk.
While defense lawyers confirm that the authorities are sarcastically twisting the rules of the Corona virus to isolate people who will not spread the infection, but they see that their danger is political in nature.
“The ideological intent is to classify opposition figures as infecting the public and poisoning its ideas,” said Daniel Berman, lawyer for “Pussy Riot” group member Maria Alyujina, who was among those targeted.
Berman added that the removal of key leaders ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for this year is also hindering the opposition.