Maas demands Navalny's immediate release

The German Foreign Minister finds the arrest of the Kremlin critic after his return to Russia "completely incomprehensible".

Maas fordert sofortige Freilassung Nawalnys
dpa

Berlin (dpa) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the immediate release of Alexei Navalny on Monday, one day after the Russian dissident was detained upon returning to his home country.Navalny had been receiving medical care in Germany after being poisoned with the Soviet-developed nerve agent Novichok in August but had vowed to return to Russia to continue his work in opposition. He is one of President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics."Alexei Navalny consciously returned to Russia of his own accord after his recovery because he considers it to be his personal and political home. The fact that he was arrested by the Russian authorities immediately after his arrival is completely incomprehensible," Maas said.

Germany's top diplomat stressed that Russia is bound to its own constitution and international law regarding rule of law and the rights of its own citizens."These principles must of course also be applied to Alexei Navalny. He should be released without delay," Maas said.Navalny was the victim of a serious chemical attack on Russian soil, the minister pointed out, adding that Germany "continue[s] to expect that Russia does everything it can in order to comprehensively investigate this attack and bring the culprits to justice."

Russian authorities arrested Navalny after accusing him of violating parole conditions for a previous offence by travelling to Germany.He was brought to the country in a coma on August 22 after falling in on a domestic Russian flight days before.Navalny holds Putin and the FSB intelligence service responsible for the poisoning - a charge which the Kremlin denies.

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