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File image of Alexei Navalny Alamy Stock Photo

UK summons Russian diplomats over Navalny's death as hundreds detained at anti-Putin protests

British foreign secretary David Cameron said Navalny’s death ‘reveals so much about the true nature of Putin’s ghastly regime’.


THE UK GOVERNMENT has summoned Russian embassy diplomats “to make clear that we hold the Russian authorities fully responsible” for the death of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Russian officials announced the 47-year-old had died yesterday in an Arctic prison, a month before an election poised to extend President Vladimir Putin’s hold on power.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, said today that Putin and his entourage would be “punished for everything they have done to our country, to my family and to my husband”.

She called on the international community to “unite and defeat this evil, terrifying regime”.

Diplomatic response

After initially pushing back at accusations they were to blame, the Kremlin made no mention of his death on Saturday, despite an angry chorus of condemnation from Western leaders.

“In recent years, the authorities imprisoned him on fabricated charges, poisoned him with a banned nerve agent, and sent him to an Arctic penal colony,” a UK Foreign Office spokesperson said late yesterday.

“No one should doubt the brutal nature of the Russian system.”

The Foreign Office “summoned the Russian embassy to make clear that we hold the Russian authorities fully responsible”.

“Alexei Navalny dedicated his life to exposing the corruption of the Russian system, calling for free and open politics, and holding the Kremlin to account,” the spokesperson said.

British foreign minister and former prime minister David Cameron today warned of “consequences” over Navalny’s death.

“Reflecting overnight makes you think what an incredibly brave man this was. His life revealed so much about the true nature of Putin’s ghastly regime and his death has revealed that all over again,” he told broadcasters at the Munich Security Conference.

“There should be consequences. When appalling human rights outrages like this take place, what we do is we look at whether there are individual people that are responsible and whether there are individual measures and actions we can take.

“I am clear that we will be taking action and I would urge others do to the same,” he added.

G7 foreign ministers meeting in Munich held a minute’s silence for the leader on Saturday, while US President Joe Biden pointed the blame at Putin.

“Make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” he said on Friday.

“The Russian government bears a heavy responsibility,” Norway’s Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said Navalny’s death was a “warning” to the world.

Protests, tributes and arrests in Russia

Tributes continued to pour in today, as supporters staged anti-Putin protests and set up memorials to Navalny at Russian diplomatic missions around the world.

In Russia, police detained hundreds of people who had laid flowers at monuments to the victims of political repression, rights groups said.

In a video posted by the independent Sota outlet from the capital Moscow, a woman could be heard screaming as a crowd of police officers forcefully detained her, to chants of “shame” from onlookers.

Another showed a group of people in plain clothes removing flowers from a monument opposite the former headquarters of the Soviet secret police, while police blocked off the area.

On a bridge next to the Kremlin, hooded men were seen scooping up flowers into bin bags that had been laid at an unofficial memorial to Navalny ally, slain Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov.

Meanwhile, Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh has today called for his body to be returned to the family “immediately”.

Yarmysh also said on social media that Navalny’s mother had been notified that he died at 2.17 pm (09.17 Irish time) yesterday and that the body was in Salekhard, a town near the Arctic prison where he was held.

Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov said Navalny’s death was “murder” and that he was “tortured and tormented” for all of the three years he spent in prison.

© AFP 2024