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German minister urges to dissociate Nord Stream 2 and Navalny issue

German Minister of Economy and Energy Peter Altmeier reiterated that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project construction was approved by national governments long ago

BERLIN, April 25. /TASS/. German Minister of Economy and Energy Peter Altmeier believes it would be wrong to connect the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project and the situation surrounding Russian blogger Alexey Navalny.

"We should not link the completion of Nord Stream 2 with the Navalny case. We should evaluate and decide on the construction and completion of the pipeline regardless of separate affairs," he said in an interview with Funke Mediengruppe, published on Sunday. "In the past 50 years, gas supplies have never been a political weapon in relations between the East and West. This benefited [the stability of] our gas supplies."

"We need to assess it all very carefully before deviating from this policy," the minister added.

Altmeier reiterated that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project construction was approved by national governments long ago.

"The project have been approved by authorities of various European countries, in accordance with legislative procedures," he added.

At the same time, the German minister urged to make sure that Ukraine’s interests are not violated when the project is completed. In his words, "gas transit via Ukraine will continue even after the completion [of Nord Stream 2]."

"Besides, by building so-called liquefied natural gas terminals, we will make sure that we do not depend on pipeline deliveries, if Russia tries to exert political pressure by means of gas supplies," he added.

Speaking about the Navalny issue, the minister called upon Russia "to observe international standards in the human rights domain." "His immediate release would be the best scenario," he said.

When asked to comment on the possibility of imposing new sanctions on Russia over the issue, the minister said: "The decision about sanctions should be made at the level of the entire EU."

Navalny saga

Navalny, wanted for repeatedly violating his probation over his suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case, was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on January 17, 2021. On February 2, Moscow’s Simonovsky District Court sentenced him to an actual prison term of 3.5 years.

Navalny is serving his prison sentence in Penal Colony No.2 in Central Russia’s Vladimir Region. On April 5, he was taken to the prison infirmary with symptoms of an acute respiratory disease detected during a routine medical checkup. According to the regional penitentiary authorities, Navalny was moved back to his unit on April 9 since his condition had improved. His tuberculosis and coronavirus tests came back negative and a panel of doctors came to the conclusion that he was in satisfactory condition.

Nevertheless, the regional office of the Federal Penitentiary Service reported on April 19 that the doctors decided to transfer Navalny to an in-patient facility of a regional hospital for convicts.

Nord Stream 2 project

The Nord Stream 2 project envisions the construction of two pipeline strings with a total capacity of 55 bln cubic meters per year from the coast of Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. The construction was suspended in December 2019 when the Swiss pipe-laying company Allseas stopped the works due to US sanctions. However, the construction resumed in December 2020.

Nord Stream 2 AG, the project’s operator reported earlier this month that the pipeline is currently finished by 95%, about 121 km of the total length of the pipeline is yet to be laid.