The United States is increasingly concerned over the deteriorating health of imprisoned Russian dissident Aleksey Navalny. The opposition leader just ended a 24-day hunger strike in an effort to force prison authorities to provide him proper medical care for acute pain in his back and legs. Navalny had also complained of a bad cough and a fever and that others in his prison unit have been hospitalized for tuberculosis.
President Joe Biden is "disturbed" by Navalny's declining condition, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price echoed those concerns: “We urge authorities to take all necessary action to ensure his safety and to ensure his good health. And we reiterate our call for his immediate release as well as an end to the persecution of his supporters.”
On March 2nd, in response to Russia’s use of a chemical weapon to poison Mr. Navalny, the Department of State expanded existing sanctions first imposed on Russia after its 2018 Novichok attack against Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom. In addition, the Department of Treasury and the State Department sanctioned numerous Russian individuals and entities associated with the Russian Federation’s chemical weapons program and defense and intelligence sectors. Russia was also added to the list of countries that are subject to a “policy of denial for exports of defense articles and defense services.
“The U.S. government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences. Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and contravenes international norms,” said Secretary Antony Blinken.
“I wouldn’t want to preview what may lie ahead if Moscow continues down this road,” warned spokesperson Price. Moscow “should be under no illusion that we do intend to hold Russia to account” for its ill treatment of Mr. Navalny.