This week the United States and European Union issued sanctions on Russian individuals in response to the attempted assassination and subsequent jailing of high-profile opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Alexei Navalny

These penalties aim to win the release of a bold and principled man from jail. They won’t likely work, though.

For one thing, Russia has proven its ability to resist Western sanctions since 2014. For this reason, Navalny’s supporters are urging different means of putting pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.  

A further problem is that, in addition to his multiple domestic tribulations, Navalny has been forsaken by Western human rights advocates due to homophobic and other controversial comments he made years ago. His more recent political persona, under which he has promoted far more liberal ideas than previously, has been ignored.

Navalny, who has carried on a relentless campaign against corruption under President Putin, bravely returned to Moscow from Germany in January after coming out of a coma induced by a nerve agent.

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