Australia imposes sanctions on Russian prison officials over Navalny’s death

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CANBERRA (Australia): Australia has imposed financial sanctions and travel bans on seven Russian prison officers accused of mistreating Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny at the Siberian penal colony where he recently met his demise, CNN reported.

In a statement, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said, “Australia holds President Putin and the Russian Government responsible for Mr Navalny’s treatment and death in custody.”

Since December 2022, Australia has consistently applied “Magnitsky-style” human rights sanctions to Russian individuals, starting with penalties for those accused of poisoning Navalny in 2020. This move aligns with the broader international response, as the United States and the European Union also recently enacted sanctions against Russia in response to Navalny’s death and the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to CNN.

The late Alexey Navalny, was known for exposing corruption, challenging the ruling United Russia party, and orchestrating significant anti-government protests. His imprisonment in 2021 triggered widespread demonstrations across Russia, resulting in numerous detentions. Even from prison, Navalny continued to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine through social media, urging anti-war protests nationwide.

In December, Navalny was quietly transferred to a Siberian penal colony, a move that sparked a two-week search by his team after losing contact during the unannounced transfer. His death, reported by the Russian prison service, is anticipated to reverberate through Russian society, underscoring a relentless crackdown on dissent during the ongoing conflict with Ukraine, as reported by CNN.

Navalny’s return to Russia from Germany in 2021, where he was recovering from Novichok poisoning attributed to the Russian government, demonstrated his commitment despite acknowledged risks. Weeks before leaving Germany, he acknowledged the threats he faced, stating, “I understand that Putin hates me, I understand that people in the Kremlin are ready to kill.”

Concerns about Navalny’s health emerged in early April 2023, with reports of severe stomach issues and weight loss. His spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, raised the possibility of gradual poisoning during his time in prison. The Kremlin, however, claimed a lack of capacity or authority to monitor the situation. Putin, consistent in not mentioning Navalny’s name, dismissed media investigations into the 2020 Novichok poisoning as fabrications by Western intelligence.

Navalny’s death raises questions, given his past poisoning and attacks on other Kremlin opponents. In 2006, former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko died in Britain after being poisoned with polonium-210. The nerve agent Novichok nearly claimed the lives of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in 2018, with Russia denying responsibility. In 2015, Boris Nemtsov, the most visible leader of the opposition, was assassinated on a Moscow bridge. Navalny subsequently took up Nemtsov’s mantle, becoming Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, CNN reported. (ANI)

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