Sunday, April 14, 2024

Navalny’s team confirm his death, demand body be returned

Later, they were told by officials that the body would not be handed over until the investigation was complete, though earlier they had been told that the investigation had discovered no traces of criminality.

Police detain a man when he tried to lay flowers in memory of Navalny at memorials to the victims of Soviet-era purges.

Police detain a man when he tried to lay flowers in memory of Navalny at memorials to the victims of Soviet-era purges.Credit:

“Right now we don’t have access to the body and we don’t know for sure where it is, and we demand that the Russian authorities immediately give Alexei’s body to his family,” Yarmysh said in an interview.

An employee at the only morgue in Salekhard told Reuters that Navalny’s body had not arrived.

The death of Navalny, a former lawyer, robs the disparate Russian opposition of its most charismatic and courageous leader as Putin prepares for an election that will keep the former KGB spy in power until at least 2030.

Navalny had been jailed since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow to face certain arrest after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin. He was later convicted three times, saying each case was politically motivated, and received a sentence of 19 years for extremism.

After the last verdict, Navalny said he understood he was “serving a life sentence, which is measured by the length of my life or the length of life of this regime.”

US President Joe Biden said Washington doesn’t know exactly what happened, “but there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was a consequence of something Putin and his thugs did.”

The Kremlin bristled at the outpouring of anger from world leaders, with Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as “inadmissible and outrageous,” noting that medics haven’t issued their verdict on the cause of Navalny’s death.

It shows “that the sentence in Russia now for opposition is not merely imprisonment, but death,” said Nigel Gould-Davies, a former British ambassador to Belarus and senior fellow for Russia & Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Police across Russia on Saturday detained scores of people who tried to lay floral tributes to Navalny.

More than 100 people were detained in various Russian cities the previous day when they came to lay flowers in memory of Navalny at memorials to the victims of Soviet-era purges, according to OVD-Info, a group that monitors political repression in Russia.

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The tributes were removed overnight, but people continued trickling in with flowers on Saturday, and arrests continued.

Officers arrested more than a dozen people at a memorial in central Moscow, and later sealed off the area. More than 10 people were detained at a memorial in St. Petersburg, including a priest who came to conduct a service for Navalny there.

In other cities across the country, police cordoned off some of the memorials and officers were taking pictures of those who came and writing down their personal data in a clear intimidation attempt.

Opponents of Putin said that Navalny’s death illustrated just how dangerous Putin’s Russia had become 32 years after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union ushered in hopes of a better future.

“Alexei didn’t die – he was murdered,” Navalny’s spokeswoman, Yarmysh, said. His vision, she said, would live on.

“We lost our leader, but we didn’t lose our ideas and our beliefs.”

AP and Reuters

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