Canadian officials and experts have sought to assure the vaccine is safe, after several countries paused its use.
Canada’s foreign ministry says it is imposing new sanctions on nine Russian officials over “gross and systematic violations of human rights in Russia”, prompting the Kremlin to vow a response against Canada.
Global Affairs Canada said on Wednesday the sanctions were part of a diplomatic effort to pressure senior Russian officials over “the attempted murder” and detention of prominent critic Alexey Navalny, and the treatment of citizen protesters.
Today, Canada sanctioned 9 Russian officials involved in the attempted murder of Alexey Navalny, his prosecution, and the silencing of Russian citizens who protested his treatment. This decision is in line with measures previously taken by the 🇪🇺, 🇬🇧 and 🇺🇸
News release: pic.twitter.com/ebnItw3qpd
— Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) March 24, 2021
“Canada will continue to increase pressure on the Russian government to unconditionally release Mr Navalny and his supporters who have been unlawfully detained,” said Marc Garneau, minister of foreign affairs, in a statement.
“Russia’s gross human rights violations will not go unanswered,” he said.
Navalny was arrested earlier this year when he returned to Russia from Germany where he had been recovering after being allegedly poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent.
Thousands of people were subsequently detained at a series of street protests calling for his release. Navalny’s allies on Tuesday announced plans for an even bigger anti-Kremlin protest this spring, in a revived push to win his freedom.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Moscow would respond to Canada’s decision to impose what it described as illegal sanctions on Russia, the RIA news agency reported.