Monday, February 1, 2021

Nord Stream 2: France calls for construction freeze

In the face of the arrest and detention of Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny and the brutal crackdown on protesters on past week-end, France calls for a suspension of the building work on contentious gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, writes german newspaper WELT

In the light of the arrest of the Russian opposition politician Alexej Navalny and the action against his supporters, France supports the stop of the Nord Stream 2 gas project. France's European Secretary of State Clément Beaune said on Monday on France Inter when asked whether he was in favor of giving up Nord Stream 2 : "Indeed, we have already said that."

Beaune said that sanctions had already been imposed, but that was not enough. Regarding other possible consequences, he added that the Baltic Sea pipeline was an option to consider. "We have always said that in this context we have the greatest doubts about this project."

In addition to France, other EU countries are rejecting the natural gas project. The European Parliament recently voted for an immediate stop to Nord Stream 2. The federal government, however, is sticking to the gas pipeline.

According to the Russian energy company Gazprom, the main investor in Nord Stream 2, 94 percent of the line has already been completed. It consists of two strings, each around 1,230 kilometers long, and is expected to be able to transport 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia to Germany per year.

Human rights activists in Russia criticized the mass arrests at rallies for Kremlin critic Navalny as unprecedented. In at least 87 cities, more than 5100 demonstrators were in police custody, reported the Owd-Info portal on Monday night. There have never been so many arrests since the organization was founded a good nine years ago. The activists help arrested demonstrators and publish statistics.

The human rights activists also complained about "disproportionately brutal action" by the security forces against peaceful demonstrators. More than 50 people were beaten when they were arrested. More than 90 journalists were arrested in 31 cities in Russia. "The police deliberately interfered with the work of the press that wanted to cover the protests," it said.

On Sunday there were demonstrations in more than 100 cities for the release of Navalny and against corruption and arbitrary justice. All of the actions were not approved. Arrest could result in a fine or imprisonment. More than a week ago, there were around 4,000 arrests during mass protests in Russia, according to human rights activists. The authorities did not comment on these numbers.

Navalny had been arrested at a Moscow airport just over two weeks ago on his return from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poison attack for five months. The 44-year-old blames President Vladimir Putin and the domestic secret service FSB for the crime. Putin and the FSB rejected that.

No comments:

Post a Comment