New US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed “deep concern” over the treatment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the broader human rights situation in Russia.
Earlier this month, Navalny returned to Russia from Berlin, where he spent nearly six months recovering from an alleged poisoning last summer. He was detained upon arrival in Moscow.
“As the president said, we are analyzing from all directions all the actions that cause us deep concern, be it the treatment of Navalny and, especially, the obvious use of chemical weapons in an attempt to kill him,” Blinken said at his first press conference.
Last year, Navalny was evacuated to Germany from a Russian hospital after feeling unwell. The Russian doctors who treated Navalny denied that the Kremlin critic had been poisoned and attributed his coma to low blood sugar.
In September, the German government announced that a 44-year-old Russian dissident had been poisoned by a nerve agent and that a toxicology study had produced “unequivocal evidence.” The agent belonged to the Novichok family, developed in the Soviet Union.
“I am amazed all the time how worried or perhaps even afraid the Russian authorities are of one person, Navalny,” Blinken said.
The head of American diplomacy also noted that the administration is analyzing alleged Russian cyberattacks, reports of Russian payments for American soldiers in Afghanistan and possible interference in the course of elections.
“We are also urgently studying [кибератаку на] SolarWinds and its various implications, continued the secretary of state. – We are studying reports of payments offered by Russia for the US military in Afghanistan. And, of course, we are looking into the issue of election interference. All this, as the President and the White House made it clear, is being analyzed. I don’t want to be ahead of the curve on where we came from this analysis. ”
“But, as I said, we are deeply concerned about Navalny’s safety,” Blinken concluded. “The important point is that his voice is the voice of so many Russians, and it should be heard, not drowned out.”