Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reprimanded the European Union for the imprisonment of Catalan political leaders after European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell demanded the release of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalni.

The Russian foreign minister reminded on Friday that Belgium and Germany contradicted the Spanish courts in the 1-O referendum case and “Spain defended its judicial system”. “Don’t question the decisions of our judicial system”, Lavrov said at a tense joint news conference with Borrell, accusing him of applying “double standards”. He also complained that Russia was accused of backing the Catalan referendumd “without any evidence”.

Lavrov said Russia has never made public comments about “allegedly politically motivated court decisions” in the EU to dodge criticism in the Navalny case. Lavrov called the allegations “rude and arrogant.”

EU High Representative Josep Borrell called on Lavrov at the start of a press conference to release Alexei Navalni and open an “impartial” investigation into his poisoning. Borrell  said that Brussels respects “Russian sovereignty” but that “the rule of law, human rights, civil society and political freedom are central” to its relations with Moscow.

In reaction to Lavrov’s words, Catalan exiled president Carles Puigdemont tweeted that “From day one we have warned the EU that having a double standard is very expensive”.

Hungary, Poland, Spain

This is the second time this week that Spain is being nternationally criticized for the situation of political prisoners and exiles. On Tuesday, the Prime Minister of Belgium, Liberal Alexander De Croo, compared Spain for the first time with Hungary and Poland in response to NVA MP Sander Loones, who asked him in Parliament on Belgian court rulings denying Spain’s attempts to extradite Catalan exiles. “Our government believes in a strong application of the rule of law in all member states, whether in Poland, Hungary or Spain. Everyone must respect fundamental European values ​​such as the rule of law”, he said.


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