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European Council president clarifies position on Navalny’s arrest in phone call with Putin

The conversation also included the coronavirus pandemic and global peace and security issues

BRUSSELS, January 22. /TASS/. European Council President Charles Michel has held a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, clarifying the EU’s position on the arrest of blogger Alexey Navalny, the European Council said in a statement following the phone call on Friday.

"The phone call between the President of the European Council Charles Michel and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation took place on Friday, January 22, 2021. President Michel raised the detention of Alexey Navalny," the statement reads.

"The President of the European Council informed President Putin of the grave concern in the EU and its Member States over recent developments and called to fully and unconditionally respect Alexey Navalny's rights," the council added.

Navalny situation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that Western politicians’ comments on Navalny’s return to Russia were aimed "at diverting attention from the deep crisis" their countries were facing.

Navalny, who was wanted for violating his suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case, was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport upon arrival from Berlin on Sunday. Moscow’s Khimkinsky District Court ruled on Monday that he should remain in custody until February 15.

Navalny was rushed to a local hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk on August 20 after collapsing on a Moscow-bound flight from Tomsk. He fell into a coma and was put on a ventilator in an intensive care unit. On August 22, he was airlifted to Berlin and admitted to the Charite hospital. On September 2, Berlin claimed that having examined Navalny’s test samples, German government toxicologists had come to the conclusion that the blogger had been affected by a toxic agent belonging to the Novichok family. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was ready for comprehensive cooperation with Germany. He pointed out that no poisonous substances had been detected in Navalny’s system prior to his transfer to Berlin.

Cooperation in fight against pandemic

Charles Michel and Vladimir Putin discussed the importance of international cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement released in Brussels following the phone call on Friday.

"The call also addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of global solidarity and international cooperation in combatting it," the statement reads.

As the Kremlin press service commented on the outcomes of the conversation, the sides hashed over "the possibility of joint production and use of vaccines."

Global peace, security

According to the conversation readout, Charles Michel "stressed the need to enhance global peace and security and strive for less conflict and more solutions," the statement reads.