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‘I don’t know whether to believe that he is dead’

Alexei Navalny‘s wife, Yulia has told how she does not know whether to believe whether her husband has died.

Today (16 February) it was announced by the Russian prison service that the former opposition politician, who had been serving his 19-year jail sentence in a remote penal colony, had died.

But speaking following the announcement of her husband’s death Yulia Navalnaya told the Munich Security Conference she didn’t know if she could believe the news, becuase Russian President Vladamir Putin and his government cannot be believed as they “lie constantly”.

Mrs Navalnaya, who was speaking in Russian via an interpreter, said: “We cant really believe Putin and his government.

“The news is only from Russian media sources.”

She also told how Mr Putin and his associates will not go unpunished if her husband’s death turns out to be true.

Mrs Navalnaya said: “But if it is the truth, I would like Putin and everyone around him to know that they will be punished for everything they did to our country, to my family and my husband. They will be brought to justice and and this day will come very soon.”

She also called upon the international community to come together and fight against the “horrific regime” in Russia.

Mrs Navalnaya added: “I would like to call on the international community, we should come together and we should fight against this evil.

“This regime and Putin should be personally held responsible for all the atrocities they have committed in our country.”

FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was detained at a recent protest called under the slogan "Putin is not our tsar", attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva/File Photo
Alexei Navalny, who was serving a 19-year jail sentence at a remote penal colony (Photo: Reuters)

Many other world leaders have said they held Russian authorities responsible for the activist’s death, who was Mr Putin’s most prominent opponent.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Mr Navalnaya at the conference and expressed his condolences to her, the America’s State Department said.

Blinken “reiterated that Russia is responsible for his death,” the department said.

In the statement in which Mr Navalny’s death was announced, the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District said he “felt unwell” after a walk on Friday, and “almost immediately lost consciousness”.

It added that medical staff had been called, but that they were unable to resuscitate Mr Navalny and the cause of his death was still being established.

Mr Navalny had been behind bars since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning, which he claimed was orchestrated by the Kremlin.

Since then, he was handed three prison sentences, all of which he claimed were politically motivated.

Russian newspaper editor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov alleged his death was “murder”, and he believed prison conditions had led to his demise.

Ukrainian president Vlodomyr Zelensky said he believed the Russian president was to blame for Mr Navalny’s death.

He said: “Obviously he was killed by Putin. Like thousands of others who have been tortured”, adding that this demonstrated why Putin must be made to “lose everything and held accountable for his actions”.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron has said that Mr Putin should be held accountable for the death.

He said in a statement: “Navalny fought bravely against corruption. Putin’s Russia fabricated charges against him, poisoned him, sent him to an arctic penal colony & now he has tragically died.

“Putin should be accountable for what has happened – no one should doubt the dreadful nature of his regime.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the news of Mr Navalny’s death as “terrible”.

“As the fiercest advocate for Russian democracy, Alexei Navalny demonstrated incredible courage throughout his life,” Mr Sunak said.

“My thoughts are with his wife and the people of Russia, for whom this is a huge tragedy.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose country temporarily took in Navalny in 2020 after he was poisoned with the nerve agent, praised the Kremlin critic’s bravery and said his death makes clear “what kind of regime this is”.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Russia has “some very serious questions to answer” about Mr Navalny’s death, adding: “He was a prisoner and that makes it extremely important that Russia now answer all the questions that will be asked about the cause of death.”

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