Sep 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

White House calls poisoning of Putin critic Alexei Navalny "completely reprehensible"


Photo: Dmitry Serebryakov/TASS via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday joined other world governments to condemn the apparent poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The state of play: The German government announced that the poisoning was conducted with Novichok, a chemical typically associated with Russian security services.

  • Nalvany remains comatose at a Berlin hospital two weeks after falling ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow.
  • For years, he's been one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken opponents. Attacks on anti-Kremlin activists, like 2018's Salisbury Novichok attack in the U.K., have been a hallmark of Putin's leadership. Russia has claimed no wrongdoing in such incidents.

What they're saying: White House National Security Council spokesperson John Ullyot said Wednesday, "The United States is deeply troubled by the results released today. Alexei Navalny’s poisoning is completely reprehensible."

  • "We will work with allies and the international community to hold those in Russia accountable, wherever the evidence leads, and restrict funds for their malign activities."
  • "The Russian people have a right to express their views peacefully without fear of retribution of any kind, and certainly not with chemical agents."

The big picture: Other world leaders simultaneously spoke out against the attack on Navalny.

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, "We have seen first-hand the deadly consequences of Novichok in the U.K. The Russian government must now explain what happened to Mr Navalny — we will work with international partners to ensure justice is done."
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said efforts to "silence" Navalny are "a crime against the basic values and basic rights we stand for. ... Of course it raises severe questions that only the Russian government can answer and will have to answer."
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted, "This is a despicable and cowardly act — once again. Perpetrators need to be brought to justice."
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted, "I utterly condemn the use of a military-grade nerve agent, which makes it even more urgent that Russia conducts full & transparent investigation."
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