The European Union on Wednesday imposed sanctions on six senior Russians over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The assets of Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), will be frozen and he will face a travel ban. Also targeted are Sergei Kiriyenko, first deputy chief of staff in Vladimir Putin’s administration and a former prime minister; Kremlin official Andrei Yarin; deputy ministers of defense Alexei Krivoruchko and Pavel Popov; and Sergei Menyaylo, a presidential envoy to the Siberian Federal District — Navalny collapsed on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk.
Yarin, the chief of Russia’s Presidential Domestic Policy Directorate, was sanctioned for making Navalny “the target of systematic harassment and repression … due to his prominent role in the political opposition,” according to the EU document setting out the sanctions.
Also on the list is the State Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology, which “before 1994 was involved in the development and production of chemical weapons including the toxic nerve agent now know as ‘Novichok.'”
Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden have all confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group.
Earlier this month, Navalny said he is certain that Putin was behind his poisoning because all officials with the authority to order a Novichok attack are subordinate to the president.
On Thursday, Russia said it would no longer negotiate with Australia and the Netherlands about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which crashed in Ukraine in 2014, leaving 298 dead, including 193 Dutch citizens.
“I’m very disappointed about this. This is a unilateral decision by Russia. It is particularly painful for the relatives [of the MH17 victims] that Russia is now canceling this,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said ahead of a European Council summit in Brussels on Thursday.
“I’m also surprised about the timing of this announcement,” Rutte said.
Hans von der Burchard contributed reporting.
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