After EU, US Slaps Sanctions on Russia Over Poisoning of Navalny

Navalny was arrested shortly after his flight from Berlin back to Moscow on 17 January. 

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Alexei Navalny, a 44-year-old staunch critic of President Vladimir Putin, was on a ventilator and in a coma.
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The Joe Biden administration has announced sanctions against Russia over the poisoning and jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, according to Associated Press (AP).

Navalny, as per Reuters, fell ill on a flight in Siberia in August and was thereby airlifted to Germany. At Germany, the doctors reportedly concluded he had been poisoned with a nerve agent.

Navalny was arrested shortly after his flight from Berlin back to Moscow on 17 January. Authorities claimed that the return was a violation of the terms of a suspended 2014 conviction in a money-laundering case, which Navalny maintains was an illegitimate case. On arriving at Sheremetyevo airport, he was arrested.

Previously, European Union Foreign Ministers had agreed on 22 February to impose sanctions on four senior Russian officials who are believed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a “mainly symbolic response” to Navalny’s incarceration, Reuters reported.

Who Is Navalny?

Navalny is a lawyer-turned-activist and a strong critic of President Putin.

The 44-year-old blogger has millions of Russian followers on social media. He shot to fame when his blogs began exposing the corruption in the Russian government in the late 2000s. He called for the nationwide protest following the arrests, and thousands answered his call.

Russia Slams Sanctions

Calling the new Western sanctions imposed “to punish Moscow” as “completely unacceptable”, Russia labelled Biden’s move as “hostile”.

In a statement on Tuesday, 2 March, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Absurdity triumphs when the reason behind the sanctions is based on Alexey Navalny’s alleged “poisoning” with some toxic “chemical warfare” agent. This is just a pretext for the continuing undisguised interference in our domestic affairs, and we will not accept this.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry added, “Based on the principle of reciprocity, we will respond but not necessarily with symmetrical measures.”

In what appears to be a warning, the statement asked the US to “not play with fire”, and asserted that in the past, any attempts to sanction or pressure Russia have failed and will continue to fail.

The statement concluded by labelling Washington as a “serial violator of international treaties and agreements on arms control and the non-proliferation of weapons”, thereafter being “deprived of the moral right to ‘lecture’ others".

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