Aug 20, 2022 - World

U.S. calls for Putin critic's release on anniversary of assassination attempt

Alexey Navalny
Alexei Navalny is seen on the screen during his appeal of a nine-year prison sentence in a Moscow court, on May 24, 2022. Photo: Contributor/Getty Images

The U.S. State Department on Saturday called on Russia to release imprisoned political leader Alexei Navalny on the two-year anniversary of his attempted assassination.

Driving the news: A sharp critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Navalny survived Russian agents’ attempt to poison him in August 2020. After recovering, he was arrested in early 2021 and sentenced to prison in what the State Department has said were politically motivated charges.

  • Moscow has denied involvement in Navalny's assassination attempt.

What they’re saying: “We again condemn Russia’s use of a chemical weapon to poison a political opponent, and call on the Kremlin to fully declare and dismantle its chemical weapons program,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price, in a statement on Saturday. “We also join Navalny’s family, colleagues, and supporters around the world in calling for his immediate release.”

  • The statement concluded: "We reaffirm our solidarity with Aleksey Navalny, Vladimir Kara-Murza, and other political prisoners in Russia, as well as the thousands of other courageous Russian citizens who, despite personal risk, confront the Kremlin’s lies with the truth."

Catch up fast: In March, Navalny was sentenced to nine and half years in prison after a Russian court convicted him of fraud. His appeal of the sentence was later denied.

  • The sentence compounded an earlier 2 ½ year sentence he was already serving for violating parole after fleeing to Germany to recover from his assassination attempt.
  • He is also facing additional time behind bars on charges that he is leading an “extremist” group – the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which he and two others launched to expose corruption within the Kremlin.
  • Earlier this week, Navalny tweeted that he has been placed in solitary confinement in the Russian prison where he's being held.

The big picture: Russia's treatment of Navalny is a part of Moscow’s broader effort to eliminate political dissent and hamstring groups advocating for human rights and democratic reforms.

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