Councillors across NSW and Qld join forces to demand climate action from Morrison Government

Councils across NSW and Queensland are fed-up by the lack of climate action from the Morrison and state governments and have banded together to demand urgent change.

Seventeen mayors and councillors from Shellharbour, south of Wollongong, to Port Douglas, in the Sunshine State’s far north, have joined forces to send a message to Canberra, declaring “extreme weather is hurting Australia and our communities are paying the price”.

The local government areas stretch along the nation’s east coast and have been particularly exposed to devastating bushfires and destructive storm events in recent years.

“We are exhausted by the immediate costs and challenges, and we are worried about what’s to come,” the group’s statement declares.

“Extreme weather disasters used to occur every few years. Now, we are facing them every few months.”

RELATED: Qld cops $18bn bill due to extreme weather

The plea for help follows a recent report from the Climate Council in which the leading independent body declared the cost of extreme weather on the Australian economy over the past decade totalled $35 billion, with Queensland copping the majority share at $18 billion.

“We can’t do this alone,” the group of concerned councils said.

“We need more support from the federal government to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in clean industries that create regional jobs, unlock business investment and spur technological innovation.”

Noosa Shire Councillor Brian Stockwell called on both the Morrison and Palaszczuk governments to listen to the urgent fears and present danger for local communities.

The tourist hot spot is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm damage while the warming climate has also increased the fire risk with the popular Sunshine Coast resort area the first of hundreds engulfed in flames during the previous summer.

“The one we’re experiencing already is our early summers and springs are much hotter and much drier,” he told the NCA NewsWire.

“We were the first to have a catastrophic fire event in the 2019/20 season, but it also carries across to us having an ageing population and it’s predicted deaths from extreme heat and climate change will exceed what we experienced last year from COVID by 2100.

“These are significant issues and local governments can address them through practical measures right now.”

Mr Stockwell said the federal government had failed to offer a meaningful response to the present threat with a “business as usual approach to dealing with the fossil fuel industry and ignoring the need to convert our economy to a green economy”.

“We saw the debacle of gas being a preferred option identified by the federal government whereas it‘s really clear that new solar power on large farms are far more cost effective at the moment compared to new coal fired electricity.”

Communities across Australia have clearly had enough of the growing cost of extreme weather disasters, Climate Council researcher Dr Simon Bradshaw said.

“All types of extreme weather events — storms, coastal erosion, flooding, bushfires, heatwaves and drought — are influenced by climate change,” he said.

“Australian communities are already paying the price, with the past twelve months seeing a devastating run of extreme weather disasters.”

“Extreme weather has cost our national economy at least $35 billion over the past decade. And it’s going to get worse — by 2038, the price tag of climate impacts could climb to $100 billion a year.”

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Homeless people stuck in ‘unsuitable, sometimes dangerous’ accommodation


“For Victoria to reach the national social housing average [4.5 per cent of total housing stock], it would need to build up to 3400 new social housing dwellings per year until 2036,” the report said.

According to the report, the median period someone remains homeless in Australia is 4½ months, but it lasts more than a year in about 20 per cent of cases.

People under 35 are the largest age group of people experiencing homelessness in Victoria, although older women were a fast-growing cohort, the report noted.

Family violence was the main reason individuals accessing homelessness services sought assistance in Victoria.

“Because the homelessness system is so overwhelmed, it only has the resources to provide short-term accommodation for the very needy,” said inquiry chair Fiona Patten.


The inquiry made 51 recommendations, including increasing the provision of affordable, stable long-term housing and prioritising early intervention measures, such as assistance for those fleeing violence.

It recommended the government set up innovative housing models, such as pop-up housing in underutilised buildings, transportable housing and the use of surplus government land (through leases or sale), to create social housing.

It also suggested the government look at implementing mandatory inclusionary zoning, which would compel developers to include social or affordable housing in all new major developments across the state.

“A mandatory model of inclusionary zoning would ensure that the private market takes partial responsibility, alongside government, for the provision of housing that meets the needs of all Victorians,” the report said.

It says there are concerns this could constrain the financial returns of property developers, but incentives could be provided to guarantee the cost of other dwellings in a development would not be driven up because of the inclusion of affordable housing.

The inquiry said measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic saw many people previously sleeping rough placed in emergency accommodation, such as hotels, with plans for this to transition into long-term housing.

“This event showed that with sufficient will on the part of the Victorian government, it is possible to end homelessness for many people experiencing it. Whether that will remain the case is yet to be seen.”

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What do we know about the Russian variant of COVID-19 and how contagious is it?

Concerns have been raised after a new strain of COVID-19 was detected in Queensland this week.

Known as the Russian variant, health authorities are still working through the details of the strain to determine how contagious it might be.

What do we know about the Russian strain?

Not a lot.

Except that it has been circulating in the UK, Thailand and Switzerland from about early December.

The official name for the variant is B.1.1.317.

Professor of Infectious Diseases at the ANU Medical School, Peter Collignon, said it was important not to overreact to new strains of the virus appearing.

“This is like a lot of other variants we hear about, the South African variant, there’s a Brazilian variant, there’s now a Californian variant, there’s a New York variant,” Professor Collignon told ABC Radio Brisbane.

“Some of them do spread more, but there seems to be a great overreaction to these strains.

“They spread the same way, they spread mainly by droplets, which means larger particles that infect people when they’re close together, so all the things we’ve done to decrease the risk before should work against these strains.”

He said cases like the one in Adelaide in November last year, where the new strain had “certain characteristics” like a short incubation period “was wrong”.

“The lockdowns we’ve had because of the UK strain, it really hasn’t made any difference.

“So I think we run the real risk of overreacting. Some of them might spread more readily but they spread exactly the same way as all the other strains.

“So we just need to keep on doing what we’ve done very successfully.”

How many cases are in Queensland?

At the moment health authorities are only aware of two cases in Queensland, both of which were detected in hotel quarantine.

Additional testing will be conducted on at-risk travellers including two nose and throat swabs, as well as a blood test.(

AAP: David Mariuz


The two people had travelled on Qantas flight QR898 from Doha.

Queensland Health says genomic testing is also being carried out on a third person who was on the same flight and who has tested positive to COVID-19.

A fourth person on the same flight has also tested positive to COVID-19 but has since travelled to New Zealand.

All 74 travellers on the flight will undergo additional testing as they may have been exposed to the Russian variant.

Seven more cases of coronavirus were detected in Queensland on Thursday.

It is not known if any of these cases are the Russian variant.

Why is it called the Russian variant?

Professor Collignon said the name basically comes from the origin of the variant.

“We’re becoming very xenophobic —I saw one headline or article from Russia — they’re not worried about the Russian strain, they’re worried about the UK strain,” he said.

“So everybody becomes paranoid that whenever it’s from somewhere else it’s much worse and we need to put up more barriers, yet there’s really no good evidence they spread any different way.”

Meanwhile, University of Queensland virologist Dr Kirsty Short said while the variant was discovered in Russia it might not have emerged there, which means its name might be a misnomer.

How do variants of coronavirus occur?

Professor Collignon said it was basically the same virus with a different blueprint.

“There’s a few hundred of them [variants] already,” he said.

“Any bacteria or virus changes in time …. this occurs naturally.

“It may give it some ability to survive or spread more readily.”

How contagious are new variants of coronavirus?

Professor Collignon said he would not be surprised if certain variants spread more readily.

“Have they changed so much that they are more infectious? It does appear to be the case with the UK strain,” he said.

“It’s taken a couple of months to be sure the UK strain was more infectious.

“But is it due to the strain, or more young people moving it around?

“At the end of the day the people who are most at risk are people who are in the same room, close to people with the same symptoms. Hands might transmit it but it’s not a large factor.

“That is not different in any of those strains.”

Will the vaccine still work on the Russian variant?

Not enough is known about the Russian variant at this stage to be sure.

“So far all the evidence is they [vaccines] do [work] but we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

“Until we find variants that don’t respond to the vaccines, that’ll be a problem.”

How does this change hotel quarantine?

A policeman in a face mask standing a distance away from a group of people with bags outside a hotel
Seventy-four travellers in Queensland will undergo further testing for the Russian variant.(

ABC News: Chris Gillette


Not much, at this stage.

The passengers who arrived last month were told they needed to quarantine for an additional five days, because the detection of the variant occurred so late into their usual quarantine period.

They were also told to undergo specific additional testing, including a nose and throat swab, as well as a blood test, and a second nose and throat swab two days later.

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Marine science scholar to help safeguard reef at ports

A new James Cook University marine science scholar will gain a unique opportunity to engage with the port industry across the Great Barrier Reef.

Through a ground-breaking environment partnership between North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation and JCU, Amy Cantrill has received the first Bachelor of Science scholarship from the $5 million partnership to help safeguard the reef.

Miss Cantrill will study science relevant to applied management in the port industry.

Amy Cantrill has received the first Bachelor of Science scholarship from a $5 million partnership between North Queensland Bulk Ports and James Cook University to help safeguard the reef. Picture: James Cook University. She is pictured with Dr Nathan Waltham from JCU’s TropWATER program. Picture: James Cook University

NQBP is the only port authority in the world with three priority ports — Hay Point, Mackay and Abbott Point — located on the shores of a World Heritage Area.

Associate Professor Michael Rasheed, from JCU’s Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), is co-director of the project.

“JCU is committed to having job ready graduates in marine science and it’s exciting to have students engaging with industry and receiving financial support to get their studies and future career off the ground,” he said.

“Bringing world leading environmental science to tackle real marine industry issues is an exciting space for students to engage and our partnership with NQBP provides a unique opportunity for this.”

NQBP Senior Adviser Environment Nicola Stokes (left) and JCU intern Taleatha Pell. Picture: James Cook University

NQBP Senior Adviser Environment Nicola Stokes (left) and JCU intern Taleatha Pell. Picture: James Cook University

Miss Cantrill said she was looking forward to commencing her new academic journey.

“I feel privileged to be the recipient of this scholarship, and am extremely grateful to the JCU and NQBP partnership for providing me with such exciting opportunities,” she said.

NQBP CEO Nicolas Fertin said the port authority was immensely proud to see the evolution of the partnership.

“Providing university students real-world experience in port environmental management – and on the doorstep to the Great Barrier Reef – is like nothing else offered in Australia,” Mr Fertin said.

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NQBP Senior Adviser Environment Nicola Stokes (left) and JCU intern Taleatha Pell. Picture: James Cook University

NQBP Senior Adviser Environment Nicola Stokes (left) and JCU intern Taleatha Pell. Picture: James Cook University

The scholarship is part of NQBP’s broader five-year research partnership with JCU, announced in September 2020.

A separate internship program has provided JCU marine science students Florence Sefton, Taleatha Pell and Ingrid Naschwitz with “on the job” experience alongside NQBP’s environment team already this year.

Amy Cantrill (centre) has received the first Bachelor of Science scholarship from a $5 million partnership between North Queensland Bulk Ports and James Cook University to help safeguard the reef. She is pictured with Ingrid Naschwitz (left) and Taleatha Pell (right) who are in a separate intern program with the port. Picture: James Cook University

Amy Cantrill (centre) has received the first Bachelor of Science scholarship from a $5 million partnership between North Queensland Bulk Ports and James Cook University to help safeguard the reef. She is pictured with Ingrid Naschwitz (left) and Taleatha Pell (right) who are in a separate intern program with the port. Picture: James Cook University

To help future students, JCU marine science masters graduate Alicia Castle, herself a 2020 intern, is working with the partnership to evolve this program.

“The legacy of our partnership builds on a long-term relationship between the two organisations, spanning more than 25 years,” Mr Fertin said.

“Together we have created one of Australia’s most comprehensive port marine ambient monitoring programs and now we’re seeing an exciting evolution of the impact we can make to help the best marine science students become job ready.”

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Greens claim Brisbane seat is second-most winnable in the nation

Ms Butler won with 31 per cent of the first-preference vote at the 2019 federal election, while the Greens achieved a 6.7 per cent swing in their favour.

On Thursday, the Greens will announce Max Chandler-Mather as the party’s candidate for Griffith for the coming federal election, which could be held in just five months.

Mr Chandler-Mather – who contested Griffith in 2019 – said he had lived in the area his whole life and attended West End State School and Brisbane State High.

“Griffith is the second-most winnable seat for the Greens in the country,” he said.

“We only need a 3.5 per cent swing off Labor, and after Jonathan Sri (The Gabba) and Amy MacMahon’s (South Brisbane) wins in the same area, we think we’ve got a good shot.

“We aim to win by knocking on every door in the electorate with hundreds of volunteers chatting to tens of thousands of people – it’s how we won The Gabba ward and South Brisbane and it’s how we’ll win Griffith.”

Mr Chandler-Mather was the Greens’ head strategist for the past four years and responsible for drafting the party’s policy platforms for the past two state elections.

The Greens believe Macnamara in Melbourne – held by Labor – is their most winnable seat, and they are yet to announce other federal candidates in Queensland.

Prior to the Greens, Mr Chandler-Mather worked as a union organiser for the National Tertiary Education Union, and he left the Labor Party in 2013.

The Greens have historically made big claims about the seats that are within their grasp, both federal and state, which did not eventuate.

Before the 2019 federal election, the Greens believed Mr Chandler-Mather could snatch Griffith as they only needed one in five Labor voters to change their mind.

But they were unsuccessful.

At the time, Ms Butler said the Greens would need about 31,000 primary votes to be in a position to win – double the amount they received in 2016 – and suggested the minor party was trying to generate “buzz” to drum up volunteers and donations.

However, sometimes those predictions come true.

At the 2017 state election, the Greens believed they could topple the LNP’s Scott Emerson in Maiwar, despite polling that showed Labor was in a strong position.

And indeed, Greens MP Michael Berkman won the seat.


The Greens also argued South Brisbane was within their reach at the 2017 election.

While Labor’s Jackie Trad kept her seat at that election, helped by LNP preferences, Greens contender Ms MacMahon snagged South Brisbane in October 2020.

The next federal election could be held any time between August 7 this year and May 21, 2022.

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Tributes flow for tireless community campaigner

A coastal community fighting a David and Goliath battle against a billion-dollar development is remembering one of its “quiet achievers” who worked tirelessly to aide their cause.

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Lawyers told to find out which strain killed father in COVID-19 class action


In Mr Markovic’s case, his lawyers allege failures by the security companies led to the spread of the virus.

Tim Tobin, SC, told the Supreme Court on Wednesday they were still unable to say which hotel the strain Nenad Markovic contracted came from.

“There’ll be no doubt it’ll have come out of one of the hotels,” Mr Tobin said.

“Once the cluster is identified in relation to Mr Markovic, we will then proceed in relation to his claim against the hotel from which the cluster came, and therefore the security company responsible for that hotel.”

Unified Security supplied guards to the Rydges – the site where 90 per cent of cases came from – while MSS provided security for the Stamford.

MSS Security’s lawyer Lachlan Armstrong, QC, said there was a slight chance Mr Markovic was infected with a strain that didn’t come from the hotels.

The hearing before Justice John Dixon heard the plaintiffs couldn’t directly use evidence put before Justice Jennifer Coate’s inquiry last year into the bungled program. The inquiry found there was a lack of training provided to workers and inadequate infection control processes among a litany of other failures.

Mr Tobin told the court that didn’t prevent them from independently accessing some of the inquiry’s evidence, such as calling the same witnesses who were before the inquiry.


Justice Dixon adjourned the case for a date later in March.

The court also dealt with two other COVID-related class actions brought on the basis of the economic loss caused by the state government’s lockdowns.

In one, lead plaintiffs Keilor Park restaurant 5 Districts NY and its owner Anthony Ferrara, represented by lawyers from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, allege the government’s bungling of the hotel quarantine program led to restrictions that devastated businesses throughout the state.

In the other, 21-year-old Jordan Roberts, who lost his job at a Tullamarine warehouse just after stage four restrictions came into force, and Carbone Lawyers allege his retrenchment was the result of mistakes by the government in hotel quarantine.

Rachel Doyle, SC, is defending the government in both class actions and the court heard on Wednesday that the defendants are applying to strike-out both cases in a hearing in May.

Other court action against the government’s COVID-19 policies has so far failed.

Restaurant owner Michelle Loielo lost her lawsuit last November in which she alleged the curfew during lockdown was unreasonable or disproportionate and infringed her human rights.

The High Court also dismissed a constitutional challenge from Sorrento hospitality figure Julian Gerner, who tried to argue the restrictions violated his freedom of movement.

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Adelaide Festival | Adelaide Arts and Culture

Adelaide Festival

Review: San Cisco

It felt like the five-piece were more excited to be by the Torrens than the eager Friday night crowd.

Adelaide Festival

Adelaide Festival 2021. Fangirls, by Belvoir. Picture: Brett Boardman, supplied,

Review: Fangirls

Part pop concert, all musical theatre … Fangirls’ new kids on the block have West End smash written all over them.

Adelaide Festival

Adelaide Festival 2021 - Prince A Tribute. Picture Supplied by
 Adelaide Festival

Review: Prince – A Tribute

Late Nite Tuff Guy, aka Cam Bianchetti, spun all Prince’s big 80s hits – which was exactly how most people would have wanted it.

Adelaide Festival

Jessica Mauboy performs Festival concert, Adelaide Oval. Picture Tony Lewis

Review: Jessica Mauboy lights up Adelaide Oval

Pop royalty Jessica Mauboy positively exploded onto the stage, so keen were she and her band to get back to what they do best.

Adelaide Festival

A Midsummer Night's Dream opera Adelaide Festival 2021 Picture Tony Lewis,

Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

It’s the Shakespeare you know, set in a translucent green glade, where confident Young Adelaide Voices are the first of many joys.

SA Weekend

SAWEEKEND. Midnight Oil - Peter Garrett, Rob Hirst on drums. Picture:
 Awais Butt, supplied

Revealed: Midnight Oil’s to-do list for Australia

Peter Garrett and Midnight Oil have been pushing for social change for decades. Now, they have a a new check list for society as they start a national tour.

Adelaide Festival

Clarice Beckett, Australia, 1887 - 1935, The red sunshade, 1932, Melbourne,
oil on board; Gift of Alastair Hunter OAM and the late Tom Hunter in memory
of Elizabeth through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2019,
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Past and present exist side-by-side in Clarice Beckett exhibition

Australian art curator Tracey Lock says a retrospective of Clarice Beckett’s work provides a timely antidote to our new world order.

Adelaide Festival

Adelaide Festival 2021 - Guttered. Picture Shane Reid

Review: Guttered by Restless Dance

Unconfined by borders – be they physical, mental or societal – potential is allowed to flourish in Restless Dance’s Guttered.

Adelaide Festival

Jessica Mauboy.
Jessica will be performing at the Adelaide Festival concert at Adelaide oval. Pictured at the northern end of Adelaide Oval.
Friday 26 February 2021 Pic Roy VanDerVegt.

Return to stage kicks off at Oval

Jessica Mauboy is thrilled to finally be back on stage for the free opening weekend concert of the Adelaide Festival.

Adelaide Festival

The Boy Who Talked to Dogs by Slingsby/State Theatre Company of SA.
 Captions Bryan Burroughs by Andy Rasheed

Review: The Boy Who Talked to Dogs

The emotional ride is as intense and thrilling as the visual and aural spectacle in this mix of theatre, music and shadow puppetry.

Adelaide Festival

Adelaide Festival 2021 - Pulse. Picture Hamish McCormick

Review: The Pulse

Physical theatre company Gravity & Other Myths stretches its wings in a genre-busting, absolute knockout of a show.

Adelaide Festival

Adelaide Festival 2021 - Jaguar Jonze. Picture Supplied by Adelaide Festival

Review: Jaguar Jonze at the Summerhouse

Brisbane-based Jonze, backed by her great three-piece band, leftnothing in reserve at the new crescent-shaped Summerhouse club.


Adelaide Festival 2021. A Midsummer Night's Dream cast members (L-R) Rachelle Durkin as Tytania, Mark Coles Smith as Puck and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Oberon. Picture: Andrew Beveridge

Dream come true for Festival

More than 70 events spanning music, theatre, dance, film and visual arts – as well as Writers’ Week and WOMADelaide – are scheduled for the Adelaide Festival over the next 17 days.

Adelaide Festival

Adelaide Festival 2021. Robyn Nevin in A German Life. Picture: Andrew Beveridge

Review: A German Life

Australia’s Robyn Nevin delivers a defining moment in her acting career as Nazi Party propaganda secretary Brunhilde Pomsel.


New York artist Robin Frohardt in her Plastic Bag Store at Rundle
 Mall. Picture: Tony Lewis

Festival store has it in the bag

A New York artist has opened a shop in Rundle Mall where everything is made from single-use plastics as part of the Festival.

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Storms swirl across south-east Queensland, cutting power and causing flash flooding

A wild storm has battered south-east Queensland, blacking out nearly 18,000 homes and causing flash flooding that has left vehicles stranded.

The severe storm cell dumped heavy rain in and around Brisbane.

Greenbank, south of Brisbane, had more than 70 millimetres in the 30 minutes to 5:00pm.

Michelton recorded 61mm in 30 minutes.

Afternoon storm clouds rumble across Brisbane.(



The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) put out a storm warning for parts of the Brisbane and Moreton Bay council areas.

Everton Hills, Greenbank, Kenmore and The Gap were among the worst-affected areas.

Dark storm clouds roll over Mount Coot-tha in Brisbane on March 2, 2021
Storm rolls over Mount Coot-tha in Brisbane on Tuesday afternoon.(

Facebook: Gail Faux


Peak-hour drivers got caught up in the storm, with some reporting hail damage on a clogged Milton Road.

Motorists parked at Wacol Railway Station in Brisbane’s south-west were caught up in minor flash flooding, but the water was not high.

Trains on the Ferny Grove line in Brisbane have been suspended between the Mitchelton and Ferny Grove stations due to the storm.

Crews are trying to clear an object from the overhead lines.

Delays are expected until about 8:30pm

Cars drive through water in the car park of Wacol train station in Brisbane's south-west after storms on March 2, 2021
Cars drive through water in the car park of Wacol train station in Brisbane’s south-west.(

Supplied: Geri Lopez


A Queensland Ambulance spokesperson said the service was dealing with a large number of car crashes, but none were serious.

She said a tree fell on a car at Kenmore, but the driver was unscathed.

The State Emergency Service (SES) said it had had more than 80 call-outs to homes for roof damage and downed trees, but no injuries were reported.

Plenty of posts on social media showed blackened skies and furious winds, but as quickly as the storm hit, it was gone again.

The BOM put out seven storm alerts in all, starting from 2:29pm.

The system headed across the bayside regions and out to sea.

Another band of storms is set to drench the Wivenhoe Dam area, north-west of Brisbane.

Storm clouds loom at Woody Point, north of Brisbane.
Storm looms large at Woody Point, north of Brisbane.(

Facebook: Chris Hanmer


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US announces sanctions on Russia over Alexei Navalny’s poisoning

The sanctions are the first against Russia by the Biden administration, which has pledged to confront President Vladimir Putin for alleged attacks on Russian opposition figures and hacking abroad, including of US government agencies and US businesses. Former president Donald Trump had spoken admiringly of Putin and resisted criticism and many proposed penalties of Putin’s government.

The Biden administration co-ordinated the sanctions with the European Union, which already had imposed sanctions against a small number of Russian officials in Navalny’s case.

Some rights groups previously faulted the EU for not targeting the most important Russian officials allegedly involved. The European bloc announced new sanctions on Tuesday targeting high-ranking Russian officials over the jailing of Navalny, Putin’s most high-profile political foe.

The 27-nation bloc imposed bans on travel and froze the assets in Europe of Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation; Igor Krasnov, the prosecutor-general; Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard; and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the Federal Prison Service.


The Biden administration had forecast for weeks actions against Russia. Besides the Navalny sanctions, officials have said the administration plans to respond soon to the massive Russian hack of federal government agencies and private corporations that laid bare vulnerabilities in the cyber supply chain and exposed potentially sensitive secrets to elite Kremlin spies.

Navalny, 44, was sickened by the Russian nerve agent in an attack that the United States and others linked to Putin’s security services. After months of recuperation in Germany, Navalny flew home to Moscow in January and was arrested upon arrival for an alleged parole violation.

His detention sparked street protests across Russia. Police arrested thousands of demonstrators. Authorities have transferred the opposition leader to a penal colony to begin serving a sentence, after what rights groups said was a show trial.


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