Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is taking further action related to the Government of Russia’s poisoning of Russian opposition politician Aleksey Navalny three years ago on August 20, 2020. The State Department is also announcing related sanctions.
Today, OFAC sanctioned four Russian nationals, all of whom were involved in the poisoning of Navalny. They were designated pursuant to the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 for having acted as agents of or on behalf of a person in a matter relating to extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals seeking to expose illegal activity carried out by officials of the Government of the Russian Federation.
The majority of individuals implicated in Navalny’s poisoning have been reported to have worked within or collaborated with the FSB Criminalistics Institute, an FSB sub-unit originally founded under the Soviet-era Committee for State Security (the KGB) as a specialized laboratory. The FSB Criminalistics Institute was designated on August 20, 2021 pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 for acting for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the FSB.
AUGUST 2020 POISONING OF ALEKSEY NAVALNY
Navalny came to prominence as a leading Russian anti-corruption campaigner more than a decade ago. Exposés published by Navalny and his organization, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, have revealed the ill-gained wealth of Russia’s elite politicians and their families, including, among others, President Vladimir Putin (Putin), former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitriy Peskov. As a vocal anti-corruption politician, Navalny has continued his fight against Russia’s kleptocracy.
On August 20, 2020, approximately 30 minutes into a flight back to Moscow after campaigning in Tomsk and Novosibirsk, Navalny fell gravely ill, prompting an emergency landing in Omsk where Navalny was treated by local hospital staff. The U.S. government assesses that Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers used the nerve agent Novichok to poison Navalny. Novichok nerve agents were created by the Soviet Union, and Russia is the only known country to have used these chemical weapons. Russia previously used a Novichok nerve agent in the March 2018 attempted assassination of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, United Kingdom.
The Russian operation against Navalny reportedly involved multiple individuals who were on the ground in both Tomsk and Omsk, as well as operatives coordinating the situation from afar. These individuals collaborated to surveil Navalny ahead of the attack, break into his hotel room and apply the chemical weapon to his personal belongings, and they attempted to erase any evidence of their operation following the attack.
Russian authorities imprisoned Navalny upon his return to Russia in January 2021, and on August 4, 2023, a Russian court sentenced Navalny to an additional 19 years in prison on unfounded charges of so-called “extremism.”