Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who narrowly survived a Kremlin-orchestrated assassination attempt in August, has told the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee that sanctions against colonels and generals who hardly travel is not the way forward if Russian leaders are to be punished for their actions.

Talking by video link on Friday, Navalny said that oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin should be the targets for international condemnation and financial sanctions.

He singled out Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov.

“Let me say it very straight: as long as the most expensive yacht of Mr Usmanov (are) standing in Barcelona or Monaco, no-one in Russia or Kremlin even will treat European sanctions seriously.”

In case European leaders should miss the point, he added: “They are a bunch of criminals who temporarily took over the power in our country.”

Reacting to speculation that he might stay in Germany, where he was treated for poisoning, Mr Navanly said: “My current plan is recovery and then go back to Russia to act from inside, so I’m not even trying to develop ways to act from abroad.”

He added that it was inevitable that elections next year to the Russian parliament would not be free and fair and the results falsified.

FILE PHOTO: Navalny in November, still recovering from Novichok poisoning Reuters