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US To Sanction Russia Over Navalny’s Death 

The US and its allies imposed a slew of sanctions on Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022.


Photographs showing late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalnyare are displayed next to flowers at the monument to the victims of political repressions in Moscow on February 17, 2024, one day after the death of Navalny in an Arctic prison. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)

 

The United States will announce fresh sanctions on Russia on Friday over the death in prison of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as a string of European governments summoned Russian diplomats.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main political opponent died in his penal colony on Friday, Russian authorities said. His team says the 47-year-old was murdered.

The US is set to announce a “major sanctions package to hold Russia accountable” and respond to the “vicious and brutal war that has now raged on for two years”, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

The US and its allies imposed a slew of sanctions on Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

The European Union summoned Russia’s charge d’affaires over Navalny’s death, as Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Poland called in Russian ambassadors.

Meanwhile, Italy’s deputy prime minister and former Putin admirer Matteo Salvini was criticised for saying it was “up to Russian doctors and judges” to determine the cause of Navalny’s death.

READ ALSOEuropean Countries Summon Russian Diplomats Over Navalny’s Death

Return the body

Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, urged Putin to “immediately” release the body of her son — a demand echoed by his widow Yulia Navalnaya.

Lyudmila Navalnaya travelled to the remote IK-3 penal colony on Saturday, the morning after his death was announced, and has since been barred from seeing his body.

“Let me finally see my son. I demand that Alexei’s body be released immediately so that I can bury him in a humane way,” she said, dressed all in black, in a video published by his team.

Investigators said his body could be kept for “at least two weeks”, Navalny’s allies reported.

Navalny’s team also published a written letter to Putin by Lyudmila Navalnaya — who is not a public figure — making the demand.

The Kremlin has refused to say when the body will be handed over and Putin has been silent on the death of his main political opponent, who has spent years uncovering and publicising government corruption.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday brushed off Yulia Navalnaya’s statement that Putin killed her husband as “unfounded and vulgar”.

“I do not give a damn how the press secretary of a murderer comments on my words,” Navalnaya shot back on social media.

Temporary X suspension 

Russia detained hundreds of mourners in the days after Navalny’s death.

Yulia Navalnaya’s freshly created account on the social media site X, formerly Twitter, was suspended for 50 minutes on Tuesday, shortly after her remarks against the Kremlin.

The company then reactivated it without an explanation.

On Monday, she had posted an emotional video appeal on the platform accusing Putin of killing Navalny.

She announced she would continue her husband’s fight against the Kremlin and met European Union foreign ministers.

Her team said on Tuesday she had urged the 27-nation bloc not to recognise Russia’s forthcoming presidential election — which is likely to see Putin extend his rule until at least 2030.

“Do not recognise this election,” Navalnaya said, according to comments published by her team on social media.

“A president who killed his main political opponent cannot be legitimate by definition,” she added.

She also urged the EU to “always make the distinction between Putin and Russia.”

‘Demonstrative revenge’ 

“People running from war and dictatorship are not your enemies,” she said, calling on the bloc to “help” Russians leaving their country.

Hundreds of thousands of Russians fled abroad after Putin sent troops to Ukraine.

The West has accused the Kremlin of being behind Navalny’s death, which came three years into his imprisonment.

Navalny’s death has shocked liberal Russians.

His imprisoned friend Ilya Yashin, who is serving eight and a half years for denouncing the Ukraine offensive, said in a message from prison on Tuesday he had “no doubt” Navalny had been killed.

“I am sure that he (Putin) ordered the killing,” Yashin said in a message published through his lawyers on social media, calling it “demonstrative revenge”.

Yashin, a key figure in the Russian opposition who was not in Navalny’s team but was close to him, was sentenced last year.

Unlike most Putin critics, he chose to stay in Russia after Moscow launched its Ukraine offensive, inspired in part by Navalny’s defiant return to the country.

AFP