UK sanctions 7 Russian intelligence agents over Navalny poisoning

Alexei Navalny was flown to Germany for medical treatment after being poisoned in Siberia on Aug 20 last year. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain on Friday (Aug 20) sanctioned seven men it said were Russian intelligence operatives suspected of involvement in the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, describing the move as a warning to Russia over its use of chemical weapons.

Navalny was flown to Germany for medical treatment after being poisoned in Siberia on Aug 20 last year with what Western experts concluded was a military nerve agent.

Moscow has rejected their findings and accused the West of a smear campaign against it.

An updated version of the British sanctions list published by the government on the first anniversary of Navalny's poisoning included seven new names.

"The sanctioned individuals are directly responsible for planning or carrying out the attack on Mr Navalny," a foreign office statement said.

The action was taken in concert with the United States.

"We are sending a clear message that any use of chemical weapons by the Russian state violates international law, and a transparent criminal investigation must be held," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

The sanctions will affect those named who have overseas assets and limit their ability to travel.

The document listed Alexey Alexandrov, Vladimir Panyaev, Ivan Osipov, Vladimir Bogdanov, Kirill Vasilyev, Stanislav Makshakov and Alexei Sedov.

It said they were all FSB members either directly or indirectly involved in the poisoning.

Neither the Kremlin nor any of those named offered any immediate comment.

The document cited evidence including phone and travel records showing some of the operatives were present in Tomsk at the time of the poisoning.

For others it said there were reasonable grounds to suspect that, due to their positions in the intelligence service, they had "responsibility for, provided support for, or promoted the actions of the operatives who carried out the operation".

Navalny was jailed for parole violations on what he says were politically motivated charges when he flew back to Russia earlier this year from Germany.

A joint statement by Britain and the United States reiterated their condemnation of the poisoning, which they say was carried out with the Novichok nerve agent.

"We call on Russia to comply fully with the Chemical Weapons Convention, including its obligations to declare and dismantle its chemical weapons programme," the statement said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.