Mitt Romney wants to punish Russia for poisoning of opposition leader

(Navalny instagram via AP) This handout photo published by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on his instagram account, shows himself and his wife Yulia, posing for a photo in a hospital in Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 15, 2020, with the caption "Hi, this is Navalny. I have been missing you. I still can't do much, but yesterday I managed to breathe on my own for the entire day."

Sen. Mitt Romney wants to punish Russia and Vladimir Putin for the recent poisoning of opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

He joined with four other senators — three Democrats and one Republican — to introduce on Friday the “Holding Russia Accountable for Malign Activities Act of 2020.”

It would require a report within 90 days identifying any current or former Russian official involved in the poisoning; blocking any financial assets they may have under U.S. control; and revoking any visas they have and banning them from entry here.

It also would require a report within six months on what a Romney news release called “the personal wealth amassed by the corrupt practices of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and his inner circle.”

Additionally, it calls for the Trump administration to determine whether the Kremlin has violated bans on the use of chemical and biological weapons

Finally, the legislation urges Germany to withdraw from a pipeline agreement with Russia over the Navalny poisoning.

“The attack on Alexei Navalny puts a spotlight on the corruption and lawlessness of the Putin regime,” Romney said in a statement. “We must hold the perpetrators accountable for this cowardly attack, which was an attempt to silence dissent and suppress the people’s fight for freedom and democracy.”

Navalny collapsed on a flight to Siberia last month after being exposed to the military-grade chemical agent novichok. He was later flown to a Berlin hospital for treatment and remains in recovery.

German officials have said that laboratory tests in three countries have determined that novichok was used. It was the same weapon used to poison former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in a 2018 attack in England.

President Donald Trump has refused to condemn Russia over the poisoning of Navalny, saying he has not seen proof about it.

“So, I don’t know exactly what happened. I think it’s tragic, it’s terrible, it shouldn’t happen. We haven’t had any proof yet but I will take a look,” Trump said earlier this month. “It is interesting that everybody’s always mentioning Russia and I don’t mind you mentioning Russia but I think probably China at this point is a nation that you should be talking about much more so.”

Also joining to introduce the legislation in the Senate on Friday were Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

“As Russia continues to meddle in our elections and take other malign actions in countries like Belarus, Ukraine, and Syria that make the world more dangerous, this bill seeks to hold Putin and his inner circle accountable,” Coons said.

Rubio added, “Vladimir Putin has proven he will stop at nothing to silence or intimidate Russian citizens who speak out against his abuses and rampant corruption, including by poisoning them.”

Cardin said, “The U.S. cannot stand idly by while Russia attempts to murder its critics abroad.”