New EU restrictive measures against those responsible for human rights violations in Russia

European Union

The Council has established a new framework for imposing sanctions against individuals responsible for serious human rights violations, repression of civil society and democratic opposition, and undermining democracy and the rule of law in Russia. The EU is deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Russia, particularly in the context of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. 

This decision is part of the EU’s response to the increasing and systematic repression in Russia. The new sanctions regime was proposed by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, following the untimely death of opposition politician Alexei Navalny in a Siberian prison in February. 

The new regime will allow the EU to target individuals and entities providing financial, technical, or material support to those involved in human rights violations in Russia. Additionally, the new sanctions regime introduces trade restrictions on exporting equipment that could be used for internal repression and equipment, technology, or software primarily intended for information security and the monitoring or interception of telecommunication.

The Council has decided to impose sanctions on one organisation and 19 individuals. The Federal Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation, responsible for managing the Russian prison system, has been targeted due to widespread and systematic abuses against political prisoners. In addition, several judges, prosecutors, and members of the judiciary who were involved in the imprisonment and death of Alexei Navalny and the sentencing of Oleg Orlov and Alexandra Skochilenko have also been sanctioned. These sanctions include an asset freeze, a travel ban for individuals, and a prohibition on EU citizens and companies from providing funds to them.

The EU strongly condemns the increasing restrictive legislation, repression against civil society, crackdown on independent media, and persecution of political opposition in Russia. On February 19, 2024, the EU expressed outrage over the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and urged Russia to allow an independent international investigation into the circumstances of his death. The European Council called for the immediate release of political prisoners in Russia and the establishment of a new sanctions regime in response to the situation. 

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