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US imposes sanctions against FSB officers implicated in The Insider's investigation into Navalny poisoning

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The United States has imposed sanctions against Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers Alexei Alexandrov, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, Ivan Osipov and Vladimir Panyaev, all of whom were implicated in The Insider’s investigation into the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, according to a press release issued by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

A press release put out by the State Department says that the four individuals were “designated pursuant to the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 for their involvement in the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny three years ago this August. ” This implies a ban on their entry into the US and involves the freezing of their property and interests in property under US jurisdiction.

“Today we remind Vladimir Putin and his regime that there are consequences not only for waging a brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine, but also for violating the human rights of the Russian people,” commented Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The assassination attempt against Aleksey Navalny in 2020 represents the Kremlin’s contempt for human rights, and we will continue to use the authorities at our disposal to hold the Kremlin’s willing would-be executioners to account.”

A joint investigation by Bellingcat, The Insider and CNN, with contributions from Der Spiegel, published in December 2020, revealed the names and ranks of the FSB officers responsible for poisoning Alexei Navalny with Novichok — a Soviet-designed chemical recognized by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as a military-grade nerve agent.

After the release of the investigation, Navalny called Konstantin Kudryavtsev, one of the FSB officers mentioned in the report, introducing himself as an assistant to Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of Russia’s Security Council. In the conversation that followed, Kudryavtsev gave details of Navalny's poisoning, adding that the pilots' actions and the administration of atropine by the ambulance contributed to saving Navalny's life. He also specified that the poison was applied to his underwear, and the transport police aided the FSB officers in erasing the evidence.

Alexei Navalny is currently serving a 19-year prison sentence imposed on August 4, 2023, as an aggregate of all his convictions — including previous sentences which have not yet been served. “All sentences are compounded, starting with Kirovles,” a lawyer familiar with the verdict told the BBC's Russian Service on condition of anonymity on August 8.

The case against Navalny was initially launched over the alleged infringement of six articles of Russia's Criminal Code: incitement to extremism, creation of an NGO violating citizens' rights, financing extremism, forming an extremist community, involving minors in dangerous activities, and the rehabilitation of Nazism.

Prior to the announcement of the verdict, the 47-year-old Navalny was already serving a nine-year sentence for fraud and contempt of court. He also was sentenced in 2021 to two and a half years in prison for a parole violation. Taking into account the time Navalny has served under house arrest, pre-trial detention and in a penal colony — over three years — his remaining time behind bars now stands at more than 15 years.

Prior to Navalny's conviction, prosecutors requested that the politician serve his sentence in a “special regime” penal colony — a term used to refer to the Russian prisons with the highest level of security and the harshest inmate restrictions. According to Russian law, such penal colonies are designated for men with life sentences or “especially dangerous recidivists.”

Before his January 2021 arrest, Navalny exposed official corruption and led major anti-Kremlin protests across Russia. After recovering from nerve agent poisoning in Germany, executed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), he returned to Moscow, and was arrested by police officers at passport control at Sheremetyevo Airport.

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