EU’s Top Diplomat to Object to Navalny’s Jailing During Moscow Visit

(Bloomberg) -- European Union foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell said he would travel to Moscow next week and express objections to the jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

Borrell announced the Feb. 5 visit after foreign ministers from the 27-nation EU discussed whether to blacklist Russian officials in connection with Navalny’s detention, which has prompted demonstrations by tens of thousands of people in Russia. Borrell will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“We will for sure talk” with the Russian government “about Navalny,” Borrell told reporters on Monday in Brussels after the EU ministerial meeting.

In response to Navalny’s imprisonment, the EU is weighing the first-ever use of a new, streamlined tool for imposing European asset freezes and travel bans against foreign officials over human-rights violations. But with such penalties still requiring the unanimous support of member countries and Germany resisting any hasty decisions, the issue may be left to the bloc’s national leaders in March.

Borrell said on Monday that the EU has no “concrete proposal on the table” to sanction any Russians in connection with Navalny’s detention.

Last year, it took the EU two months until mid-October to blacklist six allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin over the attempted murder of Navalny with a military-grade nerve agent.