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Europe urged to carry out Putin finance crackdown as backlash over Navalny arrest mounts

Mr Navalny, one of Mr Putin’s most outspoken opponents, made headlines last year after he was poisoned on a flight over Russia and had to be rushed to Germany for medical care. He recovered and returned to Russia this year, only to be immediately detained.

This week, Russian authorities sentenced Mr Navalny to three-and-a-half years in jail, claiming he had violated the conditions of an earlier suspended sentence.

Now, Leonid Volkov, Mr Navalny’s regional network coordinator, has claimed Mr Putin’s jailing was “part of our strategy”.

Speaking to AFP, Mr Volkov said he thought Mr Navalny’s sentence would give him further approval amongst the Russian people.

He also spoke out on what the EU strategy towards Mr Putin and the Kremlin should be now.

He told AFP, according to The Moscow Times: “The rebuttal should focus on this money. Go after money, seize assets of Putin’s closest friends, allies, of Putin’s oligarchs.”

Indeed, last month MEPs called on EU countries to “significantly strengthen sanctions against Russia,” according to a European Parliament press release.

A European Parliament resolution on the subject was passed with 581 votes to 50 against, and called for sanctions on “individuals and legal entities” involved in Mr Navalny’s imprisonment.

The press release added: “MEPs also underline that the EU should no longer be a welcoming place for Russian wealth of unclear origin.”

Germany has also suggested sanctions against Russia may be forthcoming.

Yesterday, Steffan Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said “further sanctions are not to be ruled out” in a news conference, according to Reuters.

Ms Merkel herself has described Mr Navalny’s arrest as “far from any rule of law standards”.

The jailing of the prominent Putin critic has sparked marches in Russia’s capital Moscow.

Videos posted to social media reportedly show police hitting and clashing with protesters.

Reports also suggest over 1,000 people were arrested across the country amid the unrest.

Mr Navalny has accused Mr Putin’s administration of being corrupt, and also accuses the Russian president of being behind his poisoning in August last year.

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