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Lithuania calls for sanctions against Russia after Navalny's arrest

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks with journalists upon the arrival at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, Russia January 17, 2021. REUTERS/Polina Ivanova

VILNIUS (Reuters) - European Union member Lithuania said on Sunday it will ask the European Union to swiftly impose new sanctions on Russia in response to the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Police detained Navalny on arrival at a Moscow airport on Sunday after he flew home to Russia from Germany for the first time since he was poisoned last summer.

“We urge Russia to immediately release Navalny and to arraign those responsible for the attempt on his life,” Lithuanian foreign affairs minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said in a statement.

The Lithuanian statement, sent to Reuters, said Navalny’s arrest was in volation of human rights principles as set by the European Council.

In an earlier tweet, the minister said neighboring EU countries Latvia and Estonia will also work towards “imposition of restrictive measures” against Russia.

Navalny says President Vladimir Putin was behind his poisoning. The Kremlin denies involvement, says it has seen no evidence that he was poisoned, and that he was free to return to Russia.

Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Frances Kerry; Editing by Susan Fenton