While the UN calls for an investigation, US intelligence, for its part, believes that it was the Russian government that poisoned Alexei Navalny in August 2019, an official said on Tuesday, announcing sanctions against several senior Russian officials.
“The intelligence community considers with a high degree of confidence that officials of the Russian Security Services (FSB) used a nerve agent known as Novichok to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on August 20, 2020” , said an American official.
A much firmer tone towards Russia
The sanctions, which target in particular seven senior officials, were taken “in close consultation with our EU partners” and are “a clear signal” sent to Moscow, the same source added. “We reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Navalny,” it was added. These are the first sanctions against Russia announced by Joe Biden.
Since coming to power on January 20, the Democratic president has taken a much firmer tone towards Moscow than his Republican predecessor Donald Trump. “We are not looking for an overhaul or an escalation,” said a senior American official, stressing that the United States would not hesitate to show firmness whenever it deems it necessary.
Alexeï Navalny targeted by several legal proceedings
The 44-year-old Russian opponent arrived Sunday in a penal colony 200 kilometers east of Moscow to serve a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence, which he and his supporters denounce as political. Russian justice transformed last January in prison a suspended sentence to which he was sentenced in 2014.
Alexeï Navalny has been the target of multiple legal proceedings since his return to Russia in January from five months of convalescence in Germany following his poisoning. His arrest on January 17 sparked large protests in Russia, to which authorities responded with more than 11,000 arrests, usually followed by fines and short prison terms.