The European Union on Monday sanctioned eight Russians linked to the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in August of 2020. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE
Nov. 15 (UPI) -- The European Union has slapped chemical weapons-related sanctions on eight Russians accused of being complicit in the poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
The sanctions announced Monday target high-ranking Russian Federal Security Service officials and chemical weapons experts the EU believes was involved in the Aug. 20, 2020, poisoning of Navalny with a Novichok-type nerve agent.
Navalny was poisoned mid-flight from Tomsk to Moscow, requiring the plane to make an emergency in Omsk. Though the Kremlin has been widely blamed for the act, it denies any involvement.
The staunch Russian President Vladimir Putin critic was then flown to Germany for treatment. On his return to Russia on Jan. 17, 2021, Navalny was arrested on charges of violating a 2014 suspended prison sentence that was handed down on embezzlement charges, which have been widely described as arbitrary.
He is currently serving a 12-year prison term, after he was given nine years' imprisonment in March on fraud and contempt charges on top of the 30 months he was already serving for violating the suspended sentence.
The EU did not specify how the eight Russians were responsible, but said they were either involved in the preparation, planning and execution of the poising as well as related "clean-up operations."
The union also imposed sanctions Monday against MHD Nazier Houranieh & Sons as well as its co-owners over accusations of supplying chemical weapons systems to Syria.
"The EU remains fully committed to counter the proliferation and use of chemical weapons, and to support the provisions laid down by the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction," the EU said in a statement.
In total, the EU has applied chemical weapons-related asset freezes and travel bans against 25 people and three entities.