Navalny anti-corruption group urges Biden to sanction Putin’s allies


BERLIN, GERMANY – JANUARY 23: Protesters hold a banner that reads “FREE NAVALNY” as around 2,500 supporters of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny march in protest to demand his release from Moscow prison on January 23, 2021 in Berlin . The demonstrators marched from the Federal Chancellery through the Russian embassy to the Brandenburg Gate and partly followed a call from Navalny to protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Navalny, who was arrested earlier this week after returning to Moscow from Germany, has called for protests against Putin across Russia despite the Russian authorities refusing to do so and declaring the protests illegal. Berlin is home to a large Russian emigrant community. (Photo by Omer Messinger / Getty Images)

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, in a letter to President Joe Biden, calls on the United States to sanction dozens of Russian oligarchs and government officials who accuse them of political persecution, human rights abuses and corruption.

Vladimir Ashkurov, who heads the Russian nonprofit founded by Navalny, told reporters on Saturday that he had emailed the letter to key officials in the Biden administration, including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Foreign Minister Tony Blinken and the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

The call for sanction comes after tens of thousands of demonstrators took part in nationwide protests last weekend after Navalny was arrested as soon as he returned to Russia from Germany.

Navalny recovered for months in Berlin after being poisoned by a nerve agent. The opposition leader blames the government of President Vladimir Putin for his poisoning.

“For years, Alexey Navalny has campaigned for sanctions against people who play a key role in supporting Putin and taking the lead in persecuting those who want to express their opinions freely and expose corruption in the system,” the letter said .

“Existing sanctions are not getting enough of the right people. The West must sanction those decision-makers who have made it national policy to rig, steal and poison elections.”

The letter contains a list of 35 Putin employees, including billionaire businessmen Roman Abramovich, Alisher Usmanov, Oleg Deripaska and Gennady Timchenko, as well as numerous government ministers.

The United Kingdom and the European Union imposed sanctions on several Russian people in response to the poisoning of Navalny last year. The US has not done the same yet, despite members of Congress urging former President Donald Trump to do the same.

Biden urged Putin to release Navalny in a private phone call with the Russian President. The White House has also directed U.S. intelligence services to investigate the Kremlin’s alleged involvement in the poisoning of Navalny.

“He did not hold back from expressing concern about the treatment of Alexei Navalny and his treatment of protesters,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Jan. 28.

In an unexpected address by Putin at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum on January 27, the Russian President warned of an “all for all” battle if global tensions and the coronavirus pandemic are not resolved.