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18 Feb, 2024 22:25

US senator wants Russia labeled ‘state sponsor of terrorism’

Republican Lindsey Graham claims that activist Alexey Navalny was “murdered” and Moscow must be punished for it
US senator wants Russia labeled ‘state sponsor of terrorism’

US Senator Lindsey Graham has claimed that the death of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny in a Siberian prison was not an accident, before medical examiners have determined the cause.

Navalny, 47, collapsed during a daily walk on Friday and was later pronounced dead. The cause of death is still being established, but Western reactions “once again demonstrated their hypocrisy, cynicism and lack of principles,” the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said.

On Sunday, Graham, who on several occasions has called for the assassination of President Vladimir Putin, went as far as to pin the blame on the Russian leader personally.

“Let’s make Russia a state sponsor of terrorism under US law. Let’s make them pay a price for killing Navalny,” Graham told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, claiming that he already discussed the idea with two Democratic senators.

Moscow has said that any effort to blacklist Russia as a ‘supporter of terrorism’ would mark a “point of no return” in relations with the US, asking Washington to tread carefully.

US President Joe Biden has previously signaled opposition to the move, but in 2021, he threatened Russia with “devastating consequences” should Navalny die in prison.

“President Biden told Putin, if something happens to Navalny, you’re going to pay a price. President Biden, I agree with you, the price they should pay is to make Russia a state sponsor of terrorism,” Graham said.

Currently, only Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria are on Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, and a bill seeking to add Russia to the list could be introduced within a week, according to Graham.

However, all previous attempts to push through this initiative have flopped. If signed into law, the measure would further cut already virtually nonexistent US defense and technology exports to Russia and impose additional financial restrictions on top of the numerous existing sanctions. It would also eliminate Russia’s sovereign immunity in Washington’s eyes, allowing the families of victims of alleged “state-sponsored” terrorism to sue Russia in US courts.