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In Moscow, Angela Merkel calls for the “release” of the opponent Alexeï Navalny

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One year to the day after the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday asked the Russian president for the “release” of the opponent. But this request was automatically rejected by Vladimir Poutine, for whom Alexeï Navalny is the author of “a criminal offense against foreign partners”.

On the occasion of a final visit to Moscow before her departure from power, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked Vladimir Putin on Friday August 20 to release the opponent Alexeï Navalny, a call rejected by the Russian president.

“Once again, I demanded from the Russian President the release of Alexey Navalny and I clearly said that we would continue,” said Angela Merkel during a joint press conference in Moscow with Vladimir Poutine.

The latter replied that his main opponent was not detained “for his political activities”, but for “a criminal offense against foreign partners”.

Returned to Russia in January after convalescing in Germany, Alexeï Navalny was immediately arrested and then sentenced to two and a half years in prison in a fraud case that he denounces as a politician.

The Russian authorities have been working in recent months to dismantle its network before the legislative elections in September, classifying its organizations as “extremists”, blocking websites linked to it and placing its allies and relatives on probation.

Anti-corruption activist, Alexeï Navalny is best known for his investigations denouncing the lifestyle and embezzlement of Russian elites, including Vladimir Poutine and his entourage.

>> To read also: “Navalny affair: the mystery of the three German companies sanctioned by Washington”

Vladimir Putin believes, as he said on Friday, that “the fight against corruption should not be used for political ends”, while assuring that “the fight against corruption is very important” and that Russia will do “everything” to eradicate it.

Angela Merkel’s visit to Russia comes a year to the day after the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, which he attributed to the Kremlin and to the Russian security services, the FSB.

The opponent thanked Friday, from his prison, in a message on social networks, all those who saved his life and affirmed that he would continue his fight.

Putin and Merkel plead for peace in Ukraine

During this meeting, Angela Merkel spoke on another sensitive subject: the war in Ukraine. The German Chancellor considered that it was necessary to “keep alive” the peace negotiations in eastern Ukraine, despite their slowness. “My advice is to keep trying to keep this format alive and not end up deadlocked,” she said, even “if the progress is not as fast as we hoped” .

Vladimir Putin also pleaded for this, accusing Ukraine of wanting to dynamite them. “We get the impression that the country’s authorities have decided to renounce a peaceful settlement on principle,” commented the Russian president.

The Minsk peace accords, signed in 2015 under the aegis of Paris and Berlin to end the war in eastern Ukraine with pro-Russian separatists, ended the worst of the fighting, but no political solution was found. never emerged from it.

>> To read also: “Czech diplomats, Ukraine, Navalny: increasing tensions between Moscow and Brussels”

Apart from these agreements, “there is no other instrument to achieve peace” in these regions, insisted Vladimir Poutine, calling for them to be treated “with respect and sensitivity”.

Vladimir Putin also asked the German Chancellor, who will visit Ukraine on Sunday, to “influence the Ukrainian side to respect its obligations” within the framework of these agreements, which Moscow and Kiev regularly accuse each other. to violate. This conflict, which according to Ukraine and the West was started with the support of Russia, began just after the annexation of Ukrainian Crimea by Moscow in 2014.

Continue the dialogue despite “deep differences”

Before being received in the Kremlin by Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel visited the tomb of the unknown Soviet soldier. She then pleaded for the continuation of dialogue with Russia despite the “deep differences”.

Vladimir Poutine had noted that this meeting was not “just a farewell visit”, but a “serious” meeting between veterans of European political life because “many questions must be discussed”.

Beyond the angry subjects, Angela Merkel however has points of convergence with the Russia of Vladimir Putin. The two leaders have defended their Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, denounced by Ukraine, because its commissioning will deprive it of transit rights essential to its economy. The pipeline is to be completed in the coming days.

The German Chancellor has once again said that her ally should remain a transit country for Russian gas, while Vladimir Putin has assured that there will be trade negotiations on this subject.

With AFP

France 24 Europe Fr Trans

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