European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to prepare sanctions on four senior Russian officials in a mainly symbolic response to the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, three EU diplomats said.

Ministers reached political agreement during their meeting on Monday after France, Germany, Poland and the Baltics urged the 27-member bloc to send a message to President Vladimir Putin that debate and protest must be allowed in Russia.

No names were discussed during the meeting in Brussels, but one diplomat said the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, which handles probes into major crimes, the director of prisons, the director of Russia’s National Guard and the prosecutor general were to be targeted with travel bans and asset freezes.

Despite calls by Navalny’s closest aides for the EU to target members of Russia’s business elite close to Putin, EU governments have argued in favor of targeting senior officials because such sanctions can better withstand legal challenges.

Source – Reuters