WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today joined Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in pressing the Administration to use existing authorities to implement new sanctions on Russia for the poisoning of leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Romney is also a cosponsor of bipartisan legislation that would impose sanctions on Russian officials complicit in the Navalny poisoning and other violations of international law.
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, the senators urge the use of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and/or the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act to underscore the reprehensibility of Navalny’s poisoning and to deter future attacks.
The senators write, “Mr. Navalny is currently the most prominent critic of Vladimir Putin operating in Russia. He and his Anti-Corruption Foundation have acted as the conscience of Russia at a time of rampant official corruption at the pinnacle of the Russian state. Mr. Navalny’s investigations of senior Russian officials have inspired a generation of young Russians to imagine a country that is governed by the rule of law and where the ordinary citizen has a voice.”
The senators continue, “Mr. Navalny is just the latest in a series of political activists who have been poisoned after opposing the Putin regime. Former Russian military intelligence officer and British double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were almost killed in Salisbury, England by exposure to Novichok in 2018. Russian democracy advocate Vladimir Kara-Murza was poisoned in 2015 and 2017. Former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko died from radiation poisoning in London in 2006. In 2004, journalist Anna Politkovskaya was sickened on a flight; she survived only to be shot two years later. Navalny too suspects that he was previously poisoned while in prison in 2019. The U.S. cannot remain quiet as Russia attempts to silence opponents around the world.”
The senators conclude, “Those whom Mr. Navalny has rightly branded as ‘thieves and crooks’ have attempted to silence one of Russia’s last independent voices with this attack. As this Administration works with partners to identify the individuals behind this crime, the commitment of the United States to deterring such acts is critical. The Putin regime has already shown a willingness to murder its critics in other countries using radioactive materials and chemical weapons. Our efforts to assist those who seek only that their country abide by its own laws and international commitments serve as a powerful signal to all brutal regimes.”
The full text of the letter is available here.