Earlier in the day, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau, imposed sanctions on nine senior Russian officials, in line with similar measures taken earlier by the United States and the European Union over the case of opposition blogger Alexey Navalny.
“We condemn another portion of anti-Russian sanctions by Canada that are absolutely illegitimate under international law and meaningless in putting pressure on Russia,” the Russian Embassy said in a press release. “Attempts to interfere into our internal affairs and impose distorted and politicized view of reality are doomed to failure.”
Russia’s diplomatic mission in Ottawa called on Canadian authorities to be cognizant of its own “worrying” human rights record, including systemic violence against indigenous people and racial discrimination, before engaging in what it described as moral grandstanding. The country’s leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have made the welcome move to repeatedly acknowledged the presence of systemic racism in Canada – directed towards indigenous and other minority groups.
The embassy added that diplomacy through sanctions is counterproductive, and harms already “problematic” bilateral relations.
Responding to Ottawa’s announcement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Sputnik that Canada’s sanctions are not legal and that retaliation from Moscow is forthcoming.
Opposition political figure Alexey Navalny is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year jail term for repeatedly violating the terms of his probation. In 2014, Navalny and his brother, Oleg, were indicted on charges of embezzlement in dealings with a Russian subsidiary of a French cosmetics company, Yves Rocher. At the time, Navalny received a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence, with one of the conditions being that he check in with police in person at least twice a month.
In 2019, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Navalny's house arrest breached several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights but declined to recognize the case as politically motivated.
The Russian Foreign Ministry previously advised foreign politicians commenting on the Navalny situation to respect international law, as well as pay attention to issues in their countries.
Canada sanctions target a number of top Russian officials, including First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Aleksandr Bortnikov, Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov and National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov.
On Monday, Canada, in coordination with the United States and the United Kingdom, leveled similar sanctions against four Chinese officials and one entity over claims of ongoing human rights abuses in Xinjiang province.