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9 Feb, 2021 15:48

US poised for sanctions on Russia as Washington claims ‘millions’ support jailed Navalny and hope for regime change in Moscow

US poised for sanctions on Russia as Washington claims ‘millions’ support jailed Navalny and hope for regime change in Moscow

America’s top diplomat says the US is mulling how to best penalize Russia over the alleged poisoning of opposition figure Alexey Navalny, but he simultaneously claims Washington is not seeking to influence the situation.

Speaking to CNN on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told viewers “it seems apparent that a chemical weapon was used to try to kill Mr Navalny.”

“That violates the chemical weapons convention and other obligations that Russia has,” he said. “We’re looking at the situation very carefully and when we have the results we’ll look at that in the appropriate way.”

Blinken added that “the fact that Russia feels compelled – that Mr Putin feels compelled – to try to silence one voice, speaks volumes about how important that voice is and how it is representative of so many millions of Russians who want to be heard and who are fed up with the corruption and the kleptocracy.”

Also on rt.com Navalny allies decide to pause protests in Russia after momentum stalls amid smaller turnout last weekend & police crackdown

Thousands took to the streets of cities across the country to demonstrate for the release of the jailed anti-corruption campaigner over the past fortnight. However, further rallies that had been expected were called off amid lower numbers and an insistence from organizers that the movement should “end on a high note.” Unexpectedly, on Tuesday, Navalny associate Leonid Volkov, who is based in Lithuania, announced a new form of protest for the coming days, asking people to shine flashlights in their neighborhood gardens.

Research published last week found that only one in 20 of 1,600 Russians surveyed came up with Navalny’s name as a political figure that they trust. The fieldwork was conducted by the Levada Center, which is registered as a ‘foreign agent’ by the Ministry of Justice over links to funding from abroad. 

While former President Donald Trump was said to have been ambivalent about international blocs like NATO and organizations like the UN, analysts have said that Biden’s team is far more preoccupied with seeing the US play a leading role in them. Blinken appeared to confirm that view, claiming that “the world doesn’t organize itself. If we’re not in there every day helping to do some of that organizing – to write the rules and shape the norms that sort of govern the ways that countries relate to each other, then either someone else is going to do it in our place or maybe, just as bad, nobody does it and then you have chaos.”

Also on rt.com Putin’s approval rating drops slightly to 64%, while Navalny overtakes Communist Party leader in new Russian opinion poll

However, while he expressed hope that the momentum from previous protests would have a profound effect on the country, Blinken denied that the US was stoking tensions. “I think the Russian government would make a mistake in attributing to outside actors, whether it is the United States, European partners or others, responsibility for what is happening,” he said. “This is fundamentally about Russia, about Russia’s future and hopefully about a more democratic system going forward.”

Navalny was educated in the US and was appointed to Yale University’s World Fellow’s program, set up to “create a global network of emerging leaders.” This has led some in the country to suggest that he is more closely aligned to Western governments than many other domestic opposition figures.

Moscow has expressed cynicism over the nature of the US’ interest in the Navalny case. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last week that Washington didn’t need a genuine reason for sanctions. “They will always find one or make one up,” she said.

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