U.S. Expands Russia Restrictions Over Poisoning Of Kremlin Critic Navalny

The United States has expanded restrictions imposed on Russian experts that were imposed earlier this month as punishment for the poisoning of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

The U.S. Commerce Department said that the new measures which come into effect on March 18 will prevent the sale to Russia of more items controlled for national-security reasons. Such items will include technology, software, and parts.

“By deploying illegal nerve agents against dissidents, both inside and outside its borders, the Russian government has acted in flagrant violation of its commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention and has directly put its own citizens and those of other countries at mortal risk,” the Commerce Department said in a statement.

“The Department of Commerce is committed to preventing Russia from accessing sensitive U.S .technologies that might be diverted to its malign chemical weapons activities,” it said.

The statement did not give details of the goods covered by the expansion of the measure, first announced on March 2, when the United States also froze assets in the United States of seven senior Russian officials, including Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Aleksandr Bortnikov.

Those sanctions blocked any property owned by the officials that comes into U.S. possession, such as dollar bank accounts, and also prevent U.S. individuals from conducting business with them.

Washington had also blacklisted 14 companies or entities to prevent their helping Russia develop chemical weapons.

Navalny was detained in Moscow in January immediately upon returning from Germany, where he had recovered from what several Western labs determined was poisoning with a Novichok-type nerve agent that saw him fall ill on a flight in Siberia in August 2020.

A Moscow court last month ruled that while in Germany, he had violated the terms of parole from an older embezzlement case that is widely considered politically motivated. He was ultimately ordered to serve 2 1/2 years in prison.

Russia has denied involvement in the poisoning but Navalny claims the assassination attempt was ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

With reporting by AFP and dpa
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