EU slaps sanctions on eight Russians for links to Navalny poisoning

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on eight more Russians accused of being linked to the poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny, targeting high-ranking officials of the FSB intelligence service and chemical weapons experts.

Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent during a campaigning trip in Siberia in 2020, according to analysis conducted by several European medical institutions. The Kremlin denied involvement.

"As concerns the Navalny case, the new listings include operatives and high-ranking officials of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and Russian chemical weapons experts," the EU said in a statement.

The measures comprise travel bans and asset freezes.

Navalny, the most prominent domestic critic of President Vladimir Putin, was arrested when he returned to Russia at the start of 2021 after months of medical treatment in Germany.

He is serving prison terms totalling 11-1/2 years for fraud, contempt of court and parole violations, all of which he rejects as trumped-up charges intended to silence him.

Navalny has long been a thorn in Putin's side, campaigning against endemic corruption in Russia in witty and slickly produced videos that drew huge international audiences on social media.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Editing by Charlotte Van Campenhout and Gareth Jones)