MOSCOW, February 2. /TASS/. Western nations do not need any grounds to impose anti-Russian sanctions, and an excuse can easily be conjured up, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday, commenting on possible Western sanctions over Tuesday’s court verdict on opposition blogger Alexey Navalny’s case.
"An excuse can easily be found. They don’t need facts, nor data in principle. If there are no grounds [for sanctions], they can easily invent a pretext," she told the Solovyov Live channel on YouTube. She recalled that Western countries keep on imposing sanctions on Russia, "[they] persist on voting for all sorts of resolutions, and continue citing all sorts of non-government organizations and experts."
"Since 2014 [following Crimea’s reunification with Russia - TASS], we have been inviting Western diplomats, ambassadors, advisers, consular officers - any representatives from embassies who are staying in Moscow and other Russian cities to come to Crimea to see for themselves how things really are," she noted. "If you think that that is normal diplomatic practice to explore the country one is posted at - and I can only agree with that - then why do you find it possible to attend a court trial of someone who is not your national, yet for six years already you’ve made no effort to visit Crimea to see the situation there."
A TASS correspondent reported earlier in the day that about 20 foreign diplomats, including those from the United States, Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, Austria and Switzerland, had arrived to attend the Moscow City Court’s hearing on replacing Navalny’s suspended sentence over the Yves Rocher case with an actual prison term.