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Bipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning

Bipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning
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A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday called on the Trump administration to impose new sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, a leading opposition figure and prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinHow Trump's election lawsuits became his worst nightmare Enforcing the Presidential Records Act is essential for preserving our democracy's transparency, history Putin says doctors and teachers will get first COVID-19 vaccines in new immunization campaign MORE.

The call comes after the European Union and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions last week on six top Russian officials, including the chief of Russia’s internal security service and Putin’s deputy chief of staff, over Navalny's poisoning. 

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over 'intimidation' tactics Israel's new Gulf relations give Biden's team a new Middle East hub Pompeo knocks Turkey in NATO speech: report MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Sweeping financial crimes bill to hitch a ride on defense measure On The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K MORE, the lawmakers called for the U.S. to identify the individuals behind Navalny’s attack. 

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“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,” the senators wrote.

“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,” they added.  

The letter was signed by Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Trump campaigns as wild card in Georgia runoffs Rubio and Ocasio-Cortez spar on Twitter: 'Work more, tweet less' MORE (R-Fla.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDemocratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry On The Money: Biden, Democratic leaders push for lame-duck coronavirus deal | Business groups shudder at Sanders as Labor secretary | Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year Top Democrat: Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year MORE (D-Md.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Republicans start turning the page on Trump era MORE (R-Miss.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinLawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Congress faces late-year logjam Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms MORE (D-Ill.), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form Romney blasts Trump lack of leadership during pandemic: 'It's a great human tragedy' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal MORE (R-Utah) and Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate MORE (D-Del.). 

Navalny, who became gravely ill on a domestic Russian flight, was found to have been poisoned with the Soviet-era chemical nerve agent Novichok, according to German doctors who treated the opposition leader when he was taken to Berlin for treatment. Use of the nerve agent was later confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. 

Navalny has since recovered and, in an interview with CBS’s "60 minutes" that aired Sunday, called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE to condemn the use of the chemical weapon.

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“I think it's extremely important that everyone, of course including and maybe first of all, the president of United States, to be very again[st] using chemical weapons in the 21st century,” Navalny said on the program.

Russian officials have denied accusations that they were behind the attack, raised doubts over the conclusions of Novichok and accused Europe of instituting a smear campaign against Moscow. 

Novichok was earlier identified in the poisoning of the Russian-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English town of Salisbury. The international community, joined by the U.S., responded by imposing sanctions on Russia, expelling diplomats and closing Russian missions. 

“The Putin regime has already shown a willingness to murder its critics in other countries using radioactive materials and chemical weapons,” the senators wrote. “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.”