US warns Russia of consequences if jailed Navalny dies

Washington, Apr 18 (EFE).- White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Sunday warned Russia that there will be unspecified “consequences” for the Kremlin if jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies amid complaints that his health is deteriorating in a prison near Moscow.

In an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sullivan said that the US government has informed Moscow that “there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies” while in prison, where he is on a hunger strike.

Although Sullivan did not specify what the “consequences” might be if Navalny dies, he noted that President Joe Biden was dealing “privately” with the Kremlin on the matter while communicating “through diplomatic channels direct to the uppermost levels of the Russian government.”

Sullivan also said that as long as Navalny is imprisoned in Russia, he is the responsibility of the Russian authorities and “they will be held accountable by the international community,” if the dissident leader dies.

The national security official said he was not going to publicly discuss what kind of punishment Washington and its allies might levy against the Kremlin if Navalny, who has been on a hunger strike since March 31 in a Russian prison 110 kilometers (68 miles) from Moscow, were to die.

The national security advisor avoided discussing whether a potential summit between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin could be cancelled if Navalny were to perish, saying only that bilateral talks regarding the meeting were taking place in an effort to further the relationship between the two countries.

Regional Russian parliamentary lawmakers on Sunday published an open letter to Putin in which they issue a call for Navalny to be immediately provided with medical attention.

The opposition leader last Friday on Instagram said that prison authorities had acknowledged the “serious” deterioration in his health and were threatening to begin force-feeding him if he does not end his hunger strike.

Russian authorities have said that they would not let Navalny, 44, die in prison.

Nevertheless, he has lost 16 kilograms (35 pounds) since he was incarcerated in February and 9 kg (20 lb.) since he began his hunger strike two-and-a-half weeks ago to protest the refusal of prison authorities to allow him to be examined by a doctor of his own choosing.

Biden on Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware, told reporters that Navalny’s situation is “totally unfair, totally inappropriate, and on the basis of having been poisoned and then on a hunger strike – it’s wrong.”

The US leader was referring to the fact that last year Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent, allegedly by Russian security services, after which he was treated for the life-threatening situation in a German hospital for five months. When he returned to Russia, he was arrested and jailed, ostensibly for failing to adhere to his parole requirements.

Tensions between Washington and Moscow increased last week after the US levied a series of new economic and individual sanctions on Russia and expelled 10 of the country’s diplomats after accusing the Kremlin of cyber-espionage and interfering in the 2020 US elections, among other things.

In reprisal, Russia on Friday expelled 10 US diplomats and levied counter-sanctions on US businesses and several US officials.

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