Biden condemns ‘Russian state’ for poisoning of Alexei Navalny, says Trump’s ‘silence is complicity’

A woman holding a placard with an image of Alexei Navalny expresses support for the opposition leader after he was rushed to intensive care in Siberia suffering from what his spokeswoman said was a suspected poisoning, in downtown Saint Petersburg on August 20, 2020. OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images

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There is no doubt that the Russian government is responsible for poisoning opposition politician Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent, former Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday, arguing that President Donald Trump’s silence on the matter makes him complicit.

“Once again, the Kremlin has used a favourite weapon – an agent from the Novichok class of chemicals – in an effort to silence a political opponent,” Biden said in a statement. “It is the mark of a Russian regime that is so paranoid that it is unwilling to tolerate any criticism or dissent.”

Navalny, a prominent critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, became sick on a flight from Siberia to Moscow. The Russian government denies he was poisoned, but toxicology tests in Germany, where he was flown for medical treatment, revealed that he was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent.

The same chemical was used in Salisbury, England, in a state-sponsored attack against a former Russian military officer who had defected.

A spokesperson for the Trump administration’s National Security Council, John Ullyot, said he was “deeply troubled” by the news. “The Russian people have a right to express their views peacefully without fear of retribution of any kind, and certainly not with chemical agents,” Ullyot said, according to Reuters.

Trump himself has not commented on the attack.

“His silence is complicity,” Biden argued. “As president, I will do what Donald Trump refuses to do: work with our allies and partners to hold the Putin regime accountable for its crimes.”

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