The European Union called Thursday on Russia to fulfill its international obligations on upholding human rights after a Moscow court banned political organizations linked to jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny.
In a statement issued on behalf of the bloc, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the ruling “the most serious effort to date by the Russian Government to suppress the independent political opposition and anti-corruption investigations, and to eliminate Mr Navalny’s political networks’ influence ahead of the State Duma elections in September, and beyond.”
He also stressed that the court decision pronouncing Navalny’s organizations as “extremist groups” was unfounded and confirmed “a negative pattern of a systematic crackdown on human rights and freedoms which are enshrined in the Russian constitution.”
Borrell urged Russian authorities to comply with its international obligations on human rights, deriving from Russia’s membership to the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
He also called again for the immediate release of Navalny since the bloc considers his sentencing “politically motivated and running counter to Russia’s international human rights obligations.”
The Moscow court decided on Wednesday to close Navalny’s regional network offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation with immediate effect because it found that they disseminated information inciting hatred against government officials and committed "extremist actions."
In February, Navalny was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for violating parole.
He was arrested in the Russian capital upon his return in January from Germany where he had received treatment after being poisoned by Russian agents.
The EU imposed sanctions on four Russian high-ranking officials over Navalny’s arbitrary arrest, prosecution, and sentencing under its Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime in March.