EU imposes sanctions on 6 individuals over poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny

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The EU imposed sanctions on Thursday on six individuals and one entity it believes was involved in the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

The individuals are some of the highest-ranking officials in Russia, including a deputy government minister and deputy chief of staff in President Vladimir Putin’s office.

The European Union put the Director of Russia’s FSB Alexander Bortnikov, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration Sergei Kiriyenko and four other high-ranking Russian officials on the EU’s blacklist against Russia over the alleged poisoning of Navalny, the Council of the European Union said. 

The State Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology, the Russian body responsible for the destruction of Soviet-era chemical weapons stockpiles, has also been sanctioned.

The EU said that the use of Novichok in an attack against Navalny would only have been possible because of the failings of the Institute to destroy the remaining stockpiles.

Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries approved sanctions after France and Germany proposed measures last week, saying Russia was responsible for the poisoning.

In line with usual EU practice, those targeted by the sanctions – travel bans and asset freezes – will not be named until the measures take legal effect on Thursday, but they are likely to be Russian officials.

Paris and Berlin said last week they wanted to target individuals “based on their official function” and an entity “involved in the Novichok programme”.

European powers have repeatedly asked Moscow to investigate the poisoning, which took place on Russian soil, but in a joint statement last week the French and German foreign ministers said the Kremlin had come up with “no credible explanation”.

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