The U.S. State Department calls for the release of opposition activist Alexei Navalny, according to a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Navalny was detained at Sheremetyevo airport on January 17 after returning from Germany to Russia.
“The United States strongly condemns Russia’s decision to arrest Alexei Navalny. We note with great concern that his detention is the latest in a series of attempts to silence Navalny and other opposition figures, as well as independent voices critical of the Russian authorities,” Mr. Pompeo said in a statement on the US State Department website.
“We demand his immediate and unconditional release,” the statement said. The U.S. secretary of state urged the Russian government to ensure equal opportunities for all political parties and contenders in the electoral process.
The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service said that Navalny’s detention was linked to a lawsuit to have his suspended sentence commuted to life imprisonment in a case concerning the theft from the Yves Rocher company. European Council President Charles Michel called the detention unacceptable and called for the politician’s immediate release. The Baltic States called on the EU to impose sanctions in response to the detention.