US To Sanction Russia Over Navalny’s Death   

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THE United States will announce fresh sanctions on Russia on Friday over the death in prison of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as a string of European governments summoned Russian diplomats.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main political opponent died in his penal colony on Friday, Russian authorities said. His team says the 47-year-old was murdered. The US is set to announce a “major sanctions package to hold Russia accountable” and respond to the “vicious and brutal war that has now raged on for two years”, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

Russian authorities have said the cause of  Navalny’s sudden death on 16 February at a penal colony north of the Arctic Circle is still unknown and have refused to release his body for the next two weeks as the preliminary inquest continues, according to the opposition leader’s team.

The US and its allies imposed a slew of sanctions on Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The European Union summoned Russia’s Charge d’Affaires over Navalny’s death, as Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Poland called in Russian ambassadors. Meanwhile, Italy’s deputy prime minister and former Putin admirer Matteo Salvini was criticised for saying it was “up to Russian doctors and judges” to determine the cause of Navalny’s death.

Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, urged Putin to “immediately” release the body of her son – a demand echoed by his widow Yulia Navalnaya. Lyudmila Navalnaya travelled to the remote IK-3 penal colony on Saturday, the morning after his death was announced, and has since been barred from seeing his body.“Let me finally see my son. I demand that Alexei’s body be released immediately so that I can bury him in a humane way,” she said, dressed all in black, in a video published by his team.

Investigators said his body could be kept for “at least two weeks”, Navalny’s allies reported.

Navalny’s team also published a written letter to Putin by Lyudmila Navalnaya – who is not a public figure – making the demand. The Kremlin has refused to say when the body will be handed over and Putin has been silent on the death of his main political opponent, who has spent years uncovering and publicising government corruption.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday brushed off Yulia Navalnaya’s statement that Putin killed her husband as “unfounded and vulgar”.I do not give a damn how the press secretary of a murderer comments on my words,” Navalnaya shot back on social media.

Slew of sanctions

The US and its allies have already imposed a raft of sanctions to isolate Moscow since it invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, hitting Putin, thousands of Russians and firms.

The measures have included freezing Russian Central Bank funds, banning certain Russian goods, restricting Russian banks’ access to SWIFT – the dominant system for global financial transactions – and imposing a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil and diesel, among other measures.

The US Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, was discussing sanctions over Navalny’s death on a trip to Europe this week, the Reuters news agency reported.

Nelson, in visits to Germany, Belgium and France, is also discussing Washington’s authority to target those funding Russia’s war production efforts even if they are in third countries, the Treasury said, adding that Washington was “aggressively pursuing those who attempt to evade our sanctions”.

Policy experts have advanced an array of proposals meant to further starve Russia of the money it needs to continue its invasion – from seizing the nation’s Central Bank funds housed largely in Europe to lowering the Group of Seven price cap on Russian oil.

Charles Kupchan, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said, “Sanctions are always in the quiver, but they’re not going to matter that much – because let’s be honest, the sanctions have not had a huge impact on the Russian economy.

“What will make a big difference is military and economic assistance to Ukraine, full stop,” he added.

Additional report courtesy of Al Jazeera

Eighteen-Eleven Media 

 

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