WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the bipartisan Holding Russia Accountable for Malign Activities Act of 2021, a targeted bill that would impose sanctions on Russian officials complicit in brazen violations of international law including the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny. The bill directs the administration to determine if the Kremlin has violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons. The bill also requires a report on the assassination of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, and on the personal wealth amassed by the corrupt practices of Vladimir Putin and his inner circle.
“Strong leaders do not have to jail their adversaries to maintain power,” said Senator Romney. “Putin and his cronies first poisoned Alexei Navalny and when they were unsuccessful at that, they set up a sham trial and sentenced him to several years in prison. We must hold the Putin regime accountable for these acts, which are a shameless attempt to silence the voice of the Russian people fighting against corruption and for freedom and truth.”
“Putin’s government has a long and sordid history of using murder and attempted murder to silence Russian citizens at home and abroad who have called attention to the regime’s corrupt and abusive practices,” said Senator Coons. “The Russian people are now demonstrating against the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny through peaceful protests across their country. Instead of listening to their real grievances, Putin’s security forces have responded with unbridled brutality and arrested thousands. This bipartisan bill seeks to hold Putin and his inner circle accountable, while sending a clear message that the Russian government should immediately release Navalny and halt its repressive actions.”
“Following yesterday’s outrageous sentencing of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, I’m proud to join Senator Coons in standing with the Russian people,” said Senator Rubio. “The Holding Russia Accountable for Malign Activities Act will impose a cost on Putin, and his thugs, for their corruption and targeting of opponents.”
“Russia will continue to use the tools of government to violently repress the opposition until the United States and the world say enough is enough. Poisoning or otherwise attempting to kill your critics and putting them in prison are not acceptable behaviors in any country,” said Senator Cardin, author of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. “One of the ways Putin has maintained his ironclad grip on Russia is through corruption, which is why the United States must defend anti-corruption activists like Alexei Navalny in their pursuit of justice and rule of law. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation that would hold Russia accountable for its violations of international law.”
“Putin’s imprisonment and attempted murder of Alexei Navalny cannot go unanswered. The United States and the international community must hold him accountable for his efforts to squash movement toward democracy and freedom. I urge my colleagues to immediately pass this bipartisan bill, and I look forward to working with the Biden Administration to implement this measure,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“Alexei Navalny’s only crime is that he represents a strong democratic opposition to President Putin. He should be allowed to call attention to the regime’s corrupt practices and run for office without being jailed or poisoned,” Senator Durbin said. “I’m proud to introduce this bill with my colleagues to help hold Putin accountable and ensure that the Russian people can enjoy basic democratic freedoms.”
The full text of the bill is available here.