Friday, December 3

Germany says it expects EU to impose sanctions against Russia over Navalny case

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Germany has sent samples taken from the Russian opposition politician to the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague for additional tests in their labs.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday the German Foreign Ministry had sent its embassy in Berlin a refusal in response to an embassy request to have access to Navalny.

It also called on those who inspire a “campaign of demonizing Russia” to stop.

A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman pointed to earlier remarks from a ministry spokeswoman, saying Berlin had forwarded the Russian request for consular access to Navalny and that they had informed the Russian Embassy about this step on Sept 23.

But it was up to Navalny himself whether he wanted to be visited by Russian officials or not, the spokeswoman added.

The Navalny case has worsened relations between Moscow and a number of Western countries. Germany has faced calls to halt the nearly-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is meant to bring more Russian gas directly to Germany.

Asked if European sanctions against Russia should include Nord Stream 2, Maas said there were more than 100 European companies involved in the project, half of them in Germany.

“So many European workers would suffer from a construction freeze,” Maas said.

Nord Stream 2 is led by Russia’s state gas giant Gazprom, with half of the funding provided by Germany’s Uniper and BASF’s Wintershall unit, Anglo-Dutch company Shell, Austria’s OMV and France’s Engie. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow Editing by Louise Heavens and Frances Kerry)