The European Council (EC) imposed new sanctions on Monday against a Russian entity and 19 individuals for "repression of civil society and democratic opposition," in connection with the death of political opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a prison colony in February of this year. 

''The Council today established a new framework for restrictive measures against those responsible for serious human rights violations or abuses, repression of civil society and democratic opposition, and undermining democracy and the rule of law in Russia,'' according to a statement issued by the EC.

The EC decided to impose sanctions against the Federal Penitentiary Service, the central authority in charge of the Russian prison system, including the prison colony in Arctic Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, where, according to the statement, Navalny was held captive, on "politically motivated" charges.

The sanction list also includes some judges, prosecutors, and members of the judiciary who played key roles in Navalny's imprisonment and eventual death, as well as the sentencing on politically motivated charges of Oleg Orlov, one of Russia's most respected and longest-serving human rights defenders, and artist Alexandra Skochilenko, it said.

Orlov is a leader in the Memorial Human Rights Defence Center, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022.

The new sanctions regime imposes trade restrictions on the export of equipment that could be used for internal repression, as well as equipment, technology, or software designed primarily for use in information security and telecommunications monitoring or interception.

''Those designated today are subject to an asset freeze and EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them. Natural persons are additionally subject to a travel ban, which prevents them from entering or transiting through EU territories,'' the statement added.

The new regime was proposed by High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, following the death of Navalny.

''Alexei Navalny’s shocking death was another sign of the accelerating and systematic repression by the Kremlin regime. He, as with other political prisoners and victims, gave hope to democrats and civil society in Russia. We will spare no efforts to hold the Russian political leadership and authorities to account, including through this new sanctions regime, targeting those limiting the respect for and violating human rights in Russia,'' Borrell said in the statement.

The ultimate responsibility for the death of Navalny on Feb. 19, 2024, rests with President Putin and Russian authorities, the statement said, with Borrell urging Moscow to allow an independent and transparent international investigation into the circumstances of his death, describing it as “yet another sign of Russia's accelerating and systematic repression.”

Navalny was arrested in January 2021 after a hospital stay in Germany, where he was being treated for poisoning. Western countries and Navalny himself blamed Russia for the poisoning, a claim the Kremlin denies.

In August 2023, he was handed a 19-year prison sentence on charges of extremism, and other crimes. He was already serving an 11.5-year sentence on fraud charges.