Navalny’s team confirms Putin critic’s death; His mother searches for his Body

Navalny’s spokesperson alleges murder and demands the body’s release. The legal team faces closed morgue, ongoing investigation. Kremlin rebukes global outrage, stresses cause of death undetermined by medics.

Alexei Navalny’s spokesperson confirmed his death at a distant Arctic penal colony, alleging murder, but his body’s whereabouts remain unknown. An official document provided to Navalny’s mother stated his time of death, with reports suggesting his body was taken to Salekhard for investigation. His family demands his body’s release.

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Navalny’s legal team reported that when a lawyer and his mother visited the Salekhard morgue, it was closed. Upon contacting the morgue, they were informed that Navalny’s body was not there. Another lawyer was told by Salekhard’s Investigative Committee that the cause of Navalny’s death has yet to be determined, with further investigations ongoing and results expected next week, according to Yarmysh. She demanded Navalny’s immediate release to his family. The cause and circumstances of Navalny’s death on Friday remain ambiguous.

Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service stated that Navalny fell ill and lost consciousness at the penal colony in Kharp, located approximately 1,200 miles northeast of Moscow. Medical personnel attempted to revive him, but their efforts were unsuccessful. The cause of death is still being investigated. Maria Pevchikh, head of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, remarked that Navalny’s legacy will endure in the hearts of millions.

“Navalny was murdered. We still don’t know how we’ll keep on living, but together, we’ll think of something,” she wrote on X.

Following the detention of over 100 individuals in various Russian cities on Friday for laying flowers at memorials honoring Navalny and victims of Soviet-era purges, arrests persisted on Saturday, as reported by OVD-Info, a group monitoring political repression. Although tributes were removed overnight, individuals continued to arrive with flowers. In Moscow, police forcefully removed a woman from the crowd amidst chants of “shame,” as depicted in videos circulating on social media. Over 10 people, including a priest conducting a service for Navalny in St. Petersburg, were detained at a memorial there.

In various cities nationwide, police set up cordons around some memorials, photographing and recording personal data of attendees, an evident attempt at intimidation. Navalny had been imprisoned since January 2021, following his return to Moscow from Germany, where he had been recovering from nerve agent poisoning he attributed to the Kremlin. He faced multiple politically motivated convictions and was sentenced to 19 years for extremism.

Following the latest verdict, Navalny acknowledged that he was effectively serving a life sentence, contingent upon the duration of his life or the regime’s tenure.

Navalny’s death, occurring just before an election granting President Putin another six years in office, underscores a grim reality: opposition in Russia now carries the risk of not just imprisonment, but death, according to Nigel Gould-Davies, a former British ambassador to Belarus and a senior fellow specializing in Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

The Kremlin reacted strongly to the global condemnation, with Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov describing it as “unacceptable and outrageous,” emphasizing that medical professionals have yet to determine the cause of Navalny’s death.