Michael McCall: sanctions for Navalny and protection of American media in Russia

US slaps sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning

Senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee – on the steps to be taken by the Biden administration and Congress&# 160;

A bill on sanctions for the poisoning and persecution of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was submitted to the US Congress last week. In addition to these sanctions, the document, developed by senators from both parties – Democratic and Republican – involves the investigation of the murder of the leader of the Russian opposition Boris Nemtsov in 2015 and the search for the secret assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, the Russian authorities have launched a crackdown on media funded by Congress: in Moscow on February 5, a court ruled on further fines for an additional 3.85 million rubles “for the lack of labeling "foreign agent"»At the projects of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFERL). The total amount of fines imposed on RFERL projects in Russia has already exceeded 7 million rubles.

The Russian government’s crackdown on the opposition and the media has sparked outrage among US lawmakers. In an interview with the Voice of America Russian Service, Senior Republican Congressman on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Texas Representative Michael McCall (Michael McCaul) urged US President Joe Biden to speak directly with Vladimir Putin about freedom of speech in Russia.

Danila Galperovich: Joe Biden made a speech recently in which he strongly demanded that the Russian authorities release Alexei Navalny, and Congress already has a bill on sanctions. How effective do you think all this will be??

Michael McCall: I welcome President Biden’s call for the release of Alexei Navalny. This is a highly politically motivated criminal case – they said that he violated the rules of his suspended sentence while in a coma and was transported to Germany for treatment, which is absolutely outrageous. There is much more we can do besides statements. You will see that Congress and, in particular, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will come up with a draft sanctions. We can impose sanctions against Russia under both the Law on Chemical and Biological Weapons and the Magnitsky Law, and sanctions will be introduced against Putin officials who are involved in the political persecution of the man who is the main opposition candidate in Russia..

D.G.: Earlier, American politicians and experts also talked about the need to search for Putin’s secret savings in the world, but so far these searches have not been successful. Navalny’s new film somehow helps in this matter, how realistic is it at all to find Putin’s money outside Russia?

M.M.: Yes, I think it is possible. Navalny showed all of Russia nepotism and how the oligarchs are connected to the Kremlin. He described this estate on the Black Sea, which is intended for use by Putin, and this, of course, hurt Putin, as well as the disclosure of the corruption in which Putin is involved. Navalny is being persecuted for showing how Putin takes money from Russians and spends it on estates hidden from the public. Therefore, it seems to me that the sanctions will be effective, especially if we can trace their corruption ties and secret assets hidden around the world. I am also convinced that Germany needs to reconsider its approach to Nord Stream 2. We have already passed a law through Congress imposing sanctions and condemning everything related to the construction of this pipeline. I don’t understand why Europe is so eager to depend on Russian gas when there are other sources, including the US, that are more friendly. I would urge Chancellor Angela Merkel to cancel this contract.

D.G.: At the end of last week, pressure from the Russian authorities increased on the projects of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – the amount of fines imposed on them in Moscow is approaching 100 thousand dollars. How Washington should react to this?

Michael McCall: sanctions for Navalny and protection of American media in Russia

M.M.: I am very supportive of the mission of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and Voice of America, which they carry out in any country where freedom is suppressed – in Russia, China, Iran or North Korea. Now we see how Putin’s regime suppresses freedom of speech and the ability of Radio Liberty and Voice of America to operate in Moscow. I urge President Biden to come into direct contact with Putin on this matter. We have been doing this broadcast for many years, and I think now Putin is getting more and more nervous about this. The events with Navalny hurt him, and he wants to censor freedom of speech, which usually dictators do. You will still see very powerful action in this area by Congress, but I would urge the president to talk to Putin and condemn what is happening, urging him not to infringe on freedom of speech and the dissemination of truthful information – something that Radio Liberty and Voice of America do. and are engaged. This is actually the reason that I am a fan of your efforts in this field throughout my career as a congressman – you bring the truth to people in those countries around the world where dictators impose censorship and surveillance of their citizens. If the Voice of America and Radio Liberty are not present there, then people will never learn this truth..

D.G.: If we talk about sanctions – how possible is interaction on this topic with Europe? Now the Europeans have not yet worked out a common position on sanctions, they are talking about the procurement of Russian vaccines for COVID-19 – can the United States be able to work out a common position with Europe on Moscow’s actions??

M.M.: I think President Biden and his administration would like to strengthen relations with our European allies and NATO countries. We know that, with the exception of Germany, virtually every European country is opposed to the construction of Nord Stream 2, which is important. It is essential that the United States does not act alone – it is always better if we work together with our European partners. We must speak together on issues of democracy, human rights, freedom of speech – these values ​​unite us. I believe that the current US administration will work with the Europeans to impose sanctions on the repressive dictatorial regime in Russia..

  • Danila Galperovich

    Reporter for the Russian Service «Voices of America» in Moscow. Collaborates with «Voice of America» since 2012. For a long time he worked as a correspondent and presenter of programs in the Russian service of the BBC and «Radio Liberty». Specialization – international relations, politics and legislation, human rights.

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Michael McCall: sanctions for Navalny and protection of American media in Russia

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