Navalny’s spokeswoman demands return of his body as she accuses Russian authorities of ‘lying’

(CNN) — The body of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny should be handed over to his family “immediately”, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Saturday, accusing Russian authorities of lying to delay the process.

Vladimir Putin, 47, a staunch critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died on Friday after feeling unwell and fainting during a walk in prison, according to the Russian prison service. The cause of his death is not clear.

News of his death sparked outrage and some Western leaders blamed Putin.

In the team’s first confirmation of Navalny’s death, Yarmysh said the rival’s mother had been informed.

“Alexey Navalny was murdered. According to the official message sent to his mother, he died on February 16 at 2:17 pm local time,” Yarmysh said in a social media post.

“We demand that Alexei Navalny’s body be immediately returned to his family,” Yarmysh said.

The exact location of Navalny’s body is still unclear.

According to Yarmysh, Navalny’s mother and lawyer flew this Saturday to the penal colony where the Kremlin critic was being held to obtain official confirmation of his death.

“They waited two hours, after which an employee of the colony came to them and told them that the body of Alexei Navalny was in Salekhard (a nearby city), that the investigators of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation had taken him there and that they were now “Looking into it,” Yarmish said.

Navalny’s team wrote on Telegram that the penal colony was closed, although the prison had said it would remain open and Navalny’s body was there.

When another of Navalny’s lawyers contacted investigators in Salekhard, he was told the cause of death had not yet been established and a new investigation was being conducted, Yarmysh said.

“The results are expected to be available next week. It is clear that they are lying and doing everything possible to prevent the body from coming out,” he said.

An employee at Salekhard’s only morgue told Reuters news agency on Saturday that Navalny’s body had not yet arrived, adding to the confusion.

Navalny posed one of the most serious threats to Putin during his rule, which lasted more than two decades. He organized street protests against the government and used his blog and social media to highlight alleged corruption in the Kremlin and Russian companies.

He was jailed in 2021 after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was treated for poisoning with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. Upon arrival, Navalny was immediately arrested on charges he rejected as politically motivated.

Navalny has since been jailed, and concerns about his well-being grew more acute after he was transferred to a penal colony north of the Arctic Circle.

He spent his final weeks in a Siberian prison, where he said he slept under newspaper to keep warm.

Navalny in a police van after being detained during a protest in Moscow on 8 May 2012, the day after Putin's inauguration.  (AP Photo/Sergei Ponomarev, File)

Navalny in a police van after being detained during a protest in Moscow on 8 May 2012, the day after Putin’s inauguration. (AP Photo/Sergei Ponomarev, File)

Western condemnation of the Kremlin was swift and furious following news of the death on Friday. US President Joe Biden blamed Putin for Navalny’s death, while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia had “serious questions” to answer.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) this Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Putin had sent a “clear message” following Navalny’s death.

“After the murder of Alexei Navalny, it is absurd to regard Putin as the alleged legitimate head of the Russian state,” he said.

Meanwhile, Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya demanded Putin be brought to justice.

“I want them to know that they will be punished for what they have done to our country, to my family and to my husband,” she said in emotional comments. On which there was a standing ovation in MSC on Friday.

On Valentine’s Day, two days before his death was announced by Russian authorities, Navalny posted a message on social media for Yulia. “Honey, everything with you is like a song: between us there are cities, takeoff lights of airports, blue blizzards and thousands of kilometers. But I feel that you are closer every moment and I love you even more, ” They said. wrote.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had been informed and it was up to doctors to determine Navalny’s cause of death.

More than 100 people have been detained across Russia for taking part in marches and demonstrations following Navalny’s death, according to OVD-Info, a group that tracks arrests.

A video from the independent Telegram channel SOTA showed people in Moscow bringing flowers to the Wall of Sorrow in memory of Navalny for the second consecutive day this Saturday.

Independent media outlet Mozem Obyasnit reported that about 50 people gathered at the Wall of Pain before police began removing people from the monument.

(tagstotranslate)Alexey Navalny

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