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Friday, April 16th, 2021

House leaders urge Trump to investigate alleged Russian poisoning of Navalny

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U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) are urging the Trump administration to investigate Russia’s alleged use of chemical weapons in the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

This request triggers an investigation into Russia’s alleged violation of international law under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991. The lawmakers are also calling on the Trump administration to enact additional sanctions if it is determined that chemical weapons were used against Navalny.

Navalny, the leader of Russia’s Progress Party, fell ill on a flight from Moscow to Tomsk on Aug. 20. Two days later, he was airlifted to a hospital in Berlin where he remains.

“As you know, Mr. Navalny is suspected of being poisoned at an airport café in the Russian city of Tomsk. After initially receiving medical care at the Omsk Emergency Hospital, he was transported from Russia to the Charité hospital in Berlin for treatment. Doctors at the Charité hospital announced their finding that Mr. Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok agent on September 2, 2020. We thank Chancellor Angela Merkel and our German allies for opening their doors to Mr. Navalny and his family so that he may be treated in Germany,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “The poisoning of Mr. Navalny is particularly disturbing given that a Novichok agent was also used in a March 2018 attack on former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England. In that instance, you determined that the Russian government was behind the attack in contravention of international law, which in turn triggered sanctions against Russia under the CBW Act. If the Russian government is once again determined to have used a chemical weapon against one of its own nationals, additional sanctions should be imposed.”

Engel is the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, while McCaul is the Republican Leader on the committee.

“If the Russian government is once again determined to have used a chemical weapon against one of its own nationals, additional sanctions should be imposed,” wrote the lawmakers. “Those responsible for this despicable attack must be held accountable, and Russian President Vladimir Putin must know that he and his cronies will not be allowed to violate international law with impunity.”