EU leaders demand immediate release of Putin critic Navalny

FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny attends a hearing to consider an appeal against an earlier court decision to change his suspended sentence to a real prison term, in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders condemned the treatment of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and demanded his immediate release, European Council President Charles Michel said after chairing a summit of the bloc’s leaders on Thursday.

“We condemn the treatment of Alexei Navalny and we demand his immediate release,” Michel told a news conference.

“On Monday, (EU) foreign ministers reached a political agreement to impose restrictive measures against those responsible for his arrest and sentencing, and a decision will be formalised next week in the framework of the new European global sanctions regime,” Michel added.

Reporting by John Chalmers