Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tensions between Russia and the West over Navalny

Tensions between Russia and the West over Navalny

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Alexei Navalny. AFP

Tensions between Russia and the West over Navalny

Tensions that could sour relations between Russia and the West, pre-eminently Europe and the US, have intensified ever since opposition figure Alexei Navalny returned to Moscow after his discharge from a hospital in Germany.

There is an element of bitter irony that clouds his return following treatment for nerve agent poisoning – allegedly at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has claimed that Navalny’s return and the resultant tension with the Western powers represent “an absolutely internal matter”.

Perhaps on the face of it, it is. But it shall not be easy for the US and Europe, across the Atlantic to accept the global condemnation of his arrest at the Moscow airport and spirited calls for his early release.

Not the least because Navalny has blamed the Putin government for his poisoning.

Tensions between Russia and the West have distinctly exacerbated over the past several days, with some EU countries calling for an additional cache of sanctions against Russia.

The Kremlin remains ever so adamant, going by the statement of its spokesman, Dmitry Peskov: “We are talking about a fact of non-compliance with the Russian law by a citizen of Russia. This is an absolutely internal matter and we will not allow anyone to interfere in it and do not intend to listen to such statements.”

For the record, Navalny was detained at passport control at Moscow’s Sherenetyevo airport after flying in from Berlin, where he was treated for the poisoning in August. Russia’s most prominent opposition figure and anti-corruption campaginer, Navalny allegedly violated the probation terms of his suspended sentence in a 2014 money-laundering conviction, which was deemed arbitrary by the European Court of Human Rights.

Officials are seeking that he serves the three-and-half-year suspended sentence in prison.

Navalny has interpreted the crackdown against him as a sign of Putin’s fear. But the Kremlin has insisted that Navalny had violated the law.

The Kremlin claims that questions the law-enforcement entity had for Navalny have “nothing whatsoever to do with the Russian President”. Attitudes have, therefore, stiffened on either side of the fence that divdes the Kremlin from the anti-establishment segment.

Even the UN Human Rights office has raised alarm over Navalny’s arrest, indeed a response that has been clothed with the demand for his immediate release. The office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights has let it be known that it was “deeply troubled” by Navalny’s arrest.

It has appealed to the Russian government to respect his right to the due process of the law. Since the government in Moscow is incidentally headed by Putin, its defiance of Western democracies cannot be readily agreeable. And thereby hangs a tale.

After all, Navalny deserves better treatment, and not behind bars.



  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • Kingdom set to be a gold producer

    Cambodia will soon join the roster of gold producing countries after the government announced the commencement of commercial gold mining operations in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province's Keo Seima district from June 21. Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 10 announced that after 14 years of

  • School reopening can’t wait

    With the Covid-19 pandemic now well into its second year, safely reopening schools has become an urgent priority. School attendance is critical for children’s education and lifetime prospects. The long-term costs of closures – both for individual children and society – are simply too large to