Columns Who will harden Putin when Merkel leaves?

The next Federal Chancellor of Germany may be a man who has so far been a benevolent understanding of Russia.

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalnyi must be released! The European Union has taken a firm stance on Russia, both among the foreign ministers of the Member States and in a European Parliament resolution.

The EU is working together consistently, as it should. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin prefers to discuss issues directly with the leaders of individual EU countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Putin’s eyes the most influential leader in Europe – perhaps the only one Putin appreciates and listens to, some experts say.

Also As the builder of the EU line, Merkel is invincible. How will Europe’s voice change when Merkel leaves politics after the German Bundestag elections next autumn? As the most populous country in the EU and the Union’s political and economic leader, Germany remains the country that is expected to lead the way.

Last fall, as soon as the poison Navalny revealed as a Russian novice shock, Merkel used remarkably harsh language against Russia. He explicitly demanded answers from the Russian leadership regarding the crime of which Navalnyi, who had been brought to a Berlin hospital, had fallen victim. Since then, investigative citizen journalists and the media – including Navalnyi himself with his scam – have found out the role of the Russian security service in the incidents.

Police violence and arrests over the weekend left no room for speculation on Russia’s line of democracy efforts.

Merkel the party, the Christian Democratic CDU, elected Armin Laschet as its new chairman a good week ago, who may become Germany’s next chancellor.

In recent years, Laschet has had a benevolent understanding of Russia. Three years ago, when the world was shocked by the novitok poisoning of Russians Sergei and Julia Skripal in Britain, Laschet hurried to say that there was no evidence of Russia’s guilt.

It was not until Monday that Laschet took a position on the Navalny case for the first time. He said Navalnyi does not belong behind bars, but the one who tried to murder him. “We are eagerly awaiting information about who it was,” Laschet said.

The Kremlin’s great hope is that Europe will forget and get tired of Russia’s human rights abuses. At least Laschet will not take the lead as a Russian judge, but only after the German election will it become clear who will follow Merkel and what the line will look like.

The author is HS’s Berlin correspondent.

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