President Joe Biden took a swipe at Donald Trump Thursday when he promised the U.S. would no longer turn a blind eye to Russia’s “aggressive actions,” like meddling in U.S. elections, launching cyber attacks on American companies and infringing upon the rights of its own citizens.
Biden said his government will be “more effective in dealing with Russia” than the previous administration, and claimed he told Russian President Vladimir Putin as much when the two men spoke.
Biden also doubled down on previous U.S. demands to free Alexei Nalvany, the Russian opposition leader sentenced to prison Tuesday for violating parole conditions related to a 2014 conviction that Navalny and human rights watchdogs maintain was a politically motivated sham.
Thousands of Russians have been detained by police during nationwide protests calling for Navalny’s release, the largest demonstrations the country has witnessed in decades.
“The politically-motivated jailing of Alexei Navalny and the Russian efforts to suppress freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are a matter of deep concern to us and the international community,” Biden said.
Alexei Navalny, who survived poisoning by a Soviet Era nerve agent last year, was sentenced this week to nearly three years in prison after a Russian court found him guilty of violating his parole conditions. Prosecutors said he failed to check in with his probation officer, but Navalny defended himself by saying he was recuperating in Berlin, at one point in a coma, after the failed assassination attempt that he says was carried out by Russian security agents. The Russian government has denied responsibility for Navalny’s poisoning, and in December Putin commented that if Russian agents had been instructed to kill Navalny, he would be dead.