Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has called on the European Union to take tough action against oligarchs close to the Kremlin as he continues his recovery in Germany after being poisoned by a banned nerve agent.
Germany said on Tuesday it was discussing with partners what action to take after the global chemicals watchdog confirmed Navalny was poisoned with a new and undeclared variant in the Novichok group of toxins.
Several Western governments have said Russia, which has denied accusations by Navalny it was involved in the poisoning, must help investigations or face consequences.
"Sanctions against the whole country don't work. The most important thing is to impose entry bans on profiteers of the regime and freeze their assets," Navalny told German daily Bild.
"They embezzle money, steal billions and at the weekend they fly to Berlin or London, buy expensive apartments and sit in cafes," he said.
He singled out Valery Gergiev, chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic as a target for sanctions, saying he was a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Options for action include asset freezes or travel bans on Russians deemed involved in the Navalny case, economic sanctions and halting the Nord Stream 2 pipeline being built to carry gas from Russia to Germany.
Navalny was airlifted to Berlin for treatment after taking ill on a flight in Siberia on August 20 and has since been discharged. He has said he wants to return to Russia.
He was scathing about what he said was Russia's failure to help in the investigation.
"There is not even an attempt to make it look like they are investigating," Navalny told Bild.
Navalny criticised former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a friend of Putin and lobbyist for Russian energy firms, calling him "an errand boy for Putin who protects murderers".
Neither Bergiev or Schroeder were immediately available to comment.
Australian Associated Press