Menendez calls for sanction on Russia after Navalny protests
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday urging him to put sanctions on Russia after protests in support of opposition figure Alexei Navalny erupted in the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin put thousands of protesters in jail after demonstrators turned out to protest the arrest of Navalny upon his return to Russia from Germany. Navalny was allegedly poisoned by Russian security services and arrested when he came back to the country.
Menendez called for multiple sanctions against Russia for its acts and its handling of the Navalny protests, calling their response “disgraceful.”
“First, I strongly support the use of Russia Magnitsky sanctions to hold Russian officials accountable for violations of human rights,” Menendez said. He also called for “Global Magnitsky sanctions” along with “7031(c)” authority so visas can be denied to certain foreign actors.
Menendez said he also believes the poisoning of Navalny justifies sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, while blasting Russia’s crackdown on protesters.
The State Department did call for the “immediate and unconditional release” of Navalny over the weekend. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that President Biden also called for Navalny’s release in a phone call with Putin.
On Monday, Psaki said the intelligence community will be looking into Russia’s activities, but did not say what actions Biden would take against the country.
“I urge the use of all available tools to give shape to these sentiments and to address this Kremlin aggression against its own people early in the tenure of the Biden administration,” Menendez said.