Navalny’s team calls for more Russian sanctions to help Ukraine | WJHL

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s team hit Capitol Hill Thursday, calling for a new round of Ukraine war sanctions that go beyond wealthy oligarchs to spread financial pain to Russian government officials, mid-level politicians and public figures.

The group is discussing with senators a list of 6,000 people for possible sanctions, including Russian defense and security officials, administrative employees, governors, deputies, even editors and responsible for state-aligned media operations.

Vladimir Ashurkov, executive director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said on Thursday that the “avalanche of sanctions” so far from the West was having an effect in Russia. But the group is looking to move beyond Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wealthy allies to focus on lower-level figures who could potentially be more swayed by financial strain.

“Let’s bring, or at least herald, the next wave,” Ashurkov said in an interview with reporters.

While sanctions are not “quick fixes” that will stop the war, he said, “it is one of the few instruments Western countries have to influence what happens.”

The push from Navalny’s allies this week in Washington came as Congress gave the final pass to $40 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukrainians fighting the Russian invasion, Europe’s biggest war since the Second World War. World War.

Support for Ukraine is showing signs of strain in Congress, where Republicans are growing weary of emergency spending that will soon reach $53 billion since Russia invaded in February. The administration is considering next steps as Western allies seek to expand NATO’s military alliance with Sweden and Finland and deal with an increasingly intense onslaught from Putin’s Russia.

The new sanctions list was an idea of ​​Navalny himself, said another official involved with his group. The charismatic opposition leader has been imprisoned since returning to Russia in 2021 after being poisoned and is considered one of Putin’s most powerful critics. “Navalny” is an award-winning documentary about the Russian politician recently released in US theaters.

Despite his imprisonment, Navalny remains “very operational”, said Anna Veduta, vice-president of the foundation.

One of the arguments the group makes to senators, especially Republicans, is that unlike the high costs of military equipment like Javelin anti-tank missiles or tanks for Ukrainian fighters, sanctions aimed at reducing Russia have not no direct cost to the US Treasury or taxpayers.

The group also said earlier efforts, including decisions by credit card giants Visa and MasterCard to suspend Russian operations, have had adverse effects on Russians abroad or in exile.

“We think the sanctions policy needs to be more nuanced,” Ashurkov said.

The group said they met with Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Marco Rubio of Florida and others. The group also plans to meet with administration officials from the State Department, Justice and other offices in Washington.

Risch tweeted on Wednesday: “It was an honor to meet” Leonid Volkov, who is Navalny’s chief of staff.

Rubio’s office also tweeted about the senator’s meeting with Volkov.

Held in jail in Russia, Navalny is visited by his lawyers every weekday and they can print articles on the internet for him to read the latest developments. He is able to convey what he thinks, Veduta said.

“He’s very strong and he works a lot,” she said.

Navalny recently posted a lengthy Twitter thread about the need for US tech platforms, including Google and Facebook, to lift restrictions on advertising in Russia so opposition leaders can raise their voices and counter the State-aligned messaging device.

He urged President Joe Biden and other Western leaders “to urgently find a way to crush Putin’s propaganda using the advertising power of social media.”

“Even if such publicity is purchased at full commercial price, its cost will be laughable compared to the price of this war,” Navalny wrote on Twitter.

“A Javelin shot costs $230,000. For the same price, we would get 200 million ad views in different formats and provide at least 300,000 link clicks or at least 8 million views on a video with the truth about what is happening in Ukraine.

Navalny is about to be transferred to a maximum security prison where he will be more restricted, Veduta said.

“But he won’t give up and he will never give up, of course, and he’s been calling against war since day one,” she said. “He was one of the first to say: we must not be against war, we must fight against war. And he calls on our partners here and in Europe during this fight.

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