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Alexei Navalny – Remember Him

Alexei Navalny freedom fighter in Russia 2021 (Illustration for education only)

Alexei Navalny a brave man who returned to Russia to challenge Putin (Courtesy public domain photo for education only)

Alexei Navalny a brave man who returned to Russia to challenge Putin (Courtesy public domain photo for education only)

Alexei Navalny a brave man who returned to Russia to challenge Putin (Courtesy public domain photo for education only)

WebPublicaPress (New York) – France has urged Germany to scrap a major gas pipeline project — Nord Stream 2 — with Russia. EU members are considering sanctions over the detention of Alexei Navalny and a crackdown against his supporters, DW (Deutsche Welle) has reported.

The greatest challenger to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule is a man whose name the dictator won’t say and whom he has tried to kill: Alexei Navalny. And that is the name to be remembered this 2021. The world is watching and Western democracies ar outraged by the arrests in Russia. Washington and the new Biden Administration closely monitor what moves Moscow is making. Although burdened by their problems after four years of Donald Trump’s rule, the United States wants to prove once again that they are the leading democratic world, which wants to be a role model for others again, WebPublicaPress (WPP) reports from New York.
Diversification and energy security for Europe  
On several occasions, the Americans urged Europeans to separate economic interests from the common trans-Atlantic policy that should be pursued towards Putin’s Russia. At the same time, Washington recommends that the EU and its leading members such as Germany should develop energy diversification in order not to depend on Russian gas. It would also strengthen collective Western security in Europe.
Pipelines ready to be laid for Nord Stream 2Nord Stream 2 consists of two pipes, each around 1,230 kilometers long

Now, as DW has reported – French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said France had urged Germany to drop the Nord Stream II project, particularly after recent mass arrests of supporters of detained Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The US and several European countries such as Poland have strongly criticized the building of the pipeline, saying it will increase German and EU reliance on Russia for critical gas supplies. France has been less vocal in its opposition but has voiced concern.

“We have always said we have the greatest doubts on this project in this context,” Beaune told France Inter radio.

Beaune was asked if Paris wanted Berlin to drop the project: “Indeed, we have already said this,” he answered.

The calls came after Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on the opposition led by Navalny, who was arrested in mid-January and faces a trial that could see him detained for years.

“Sanctions have already been imposed, we could do that, but we have to be clear, they will not be enough. The Nord Stream 2 option is one under consideration,” Beaune said, while acknowledging: “It’s a decision for Germany, because the pipeline is in Germany.”

  • Alexei Navalny (picture-alliance/dpa/TASS/V. Sharifulin)

    WHO IS ALEXEI NAVALNY?

    Face of Russia’s opposition

    The lawyer-turned-political campaigner has been among the most prominent figures of Russia’s opposition to President Vladimir Putin. Navalny came to prominence in 2008, when his blog exposing malpractice in Russian politics and among the country’s major state-owned companies came to public attention. Revelations published on his blog even led to resignations, a rarity in Russian politics.

The European Parliament has also demanded that the pipeline’s construction should be put on hold immediately.

Berlin is demanding Navalny’s release but, on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman Martina Fietz said the government had not changed its mind on Nord Stream 2. Fietz said she had “no new updates” on the project, which Merkel strongly supports. “The government has not changed its basic position,” she told reporters.

Work resumed on Nord Stream 2 in December after being on hold for almost a year because of American sanctions.

Could a cancellation backfire?

Green party politician Jürgen Trittin, a former German environment minister, told DW he believed cancellation of the pipeline would be futile. The pipeline’s Russian developers would receive legal damages from Germany while still being able to export their gas by other means.

“I have never been a friend of this pipeline, but to stop it at this point in time would possibly have a very high price, without achieving any real effect,” he said. “After all, Russia has plenty of opportunities to export its gas via other routes.”

Russian police arrest thousands of pro-Navalny protesters

Alexei Navalny freedom fighter in Russia 2021 (Illustration for education only)

Alexei Navalny freedom fighter in Russia 2021 (Illustration for education only)

Meanwhile, Renate Alt, a Bundestag lawmaker with Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats, said she believed a moratorium should be imposed on the building of the project.

“It is important now that a stop to construction, a moratorium, is imposed until the Russian side moves, as far as the clarification of the poisoning of Alexei Navalny is concerned,” Alt told DW.

“As long as this is not clear and as long as these protests are put down so brutally… we must not allow the pipeline to simply continue to be built.”

Russian energy giant Gazprom — the main investor in the project — says Nord Stream 2 is now 94% complete.

Nord Stream 2 consists of two pipes, each around 1,230 kilometers (765 miles) long, and would be expected to deliver tens of billions of cubic meters of natural gas per year from Russia to Germany, DW reported quoting other media agencies.

It remains to be seen, of course, how much Europeans will obey – not just the advice of Americans but their own consciences, now that it is clear that autocratic authorities in Moscow have no intention of giving in to opposition and protesters on Russian streets – with American flags in hand. But Vladimir Putin really has a big problem with Alexei Navalny in a Russian prison, WPP reports.

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