02 Mar 2021
The White House will announce President Joe Biden’s first sanctions against Russia on Tuesday over the Russian government’s poisoning and detention of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a State Department official confirmed to ABC News.
The official declined to provide details on the scope of the sanctions, but they are being taken in concert with the European Union. Representatives from the bloc’s 27 members reportedly voted Monday to implement the first sanctions under its new human rights sanction program, targeting four Russian officials for Navalny’s imprisonment.
Navalny, the leading opposition figure to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been moved to a remote penal colony to serve his two-and-a-half-year sentence, a public commission confirmed Sunday. He was arrested for a probation violation after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was treated after being poisoned with a chemical weapon.
Last August, Navalny became sick on a flight in Siberia and was airlifted to Germany, where doctors concluded he was poisoned with Novichok, the military-grade nerve agent. The Kremlin has denied any role and cast doubt on whether Navalny was poisoned.
But the U.S. and several other countries have blamed Putin’s government for that attack, and Tuesday’s U.S. sanctions will target Russian officials for the use of a chemical weapon in violation of international law, as well as Navalny’s detention on charges considered trumped up, the State Dept. official said.
In a report issued Monday, two United Nations’ special rapporteurs also blamed the Russian government — saying it attempted to kill Navalny and calling it part of an “apparent pattern of attempted targeted killings” to silence critics.
By Conor Finnegan, ABC News, 2 March 2021
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