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G7 issue demand for answers from Russia over Alexei Navalny’s death

The foreign ministers of the G7 have issued a demand for answers from Russia following the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death.

Mr Navalny was announced by the Russian prison service as having “felt unwell” and “immediately lost consciousness” after going for a walk at the artic penal colony were he was imprisoned.

The 47-year-old’s team said the penal colony told his mother that her son died of “sudden death syndrome” on Friday.

A spokesperson for Mr Navalny has claimed that Russian authorities are refusing to hand over his body while they “investigate the cause of his death”.

A statement released by Italy, which is currently chairing the G7, said that the countries “expressed their outrage at the death in detention of Alexei Navalny, unjustly sentenced for legitimate political activities and his fight against corruption”.

Earlier in the day, they observed a minute’s silence to pay tribute to Mr Navalny while meeting at the Munich security conference.

Mr Navalny was imprisoned in 2021 when he returned to Moscow after recovering from nerve agent poisoning which he blamed on the Kremlin.

Following the news of his death, protests have sparked across Russia leading to the arrests of over 200 people at the time of writing while world leaders have condemned Vladimir Putin.

“Make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” US President Joe Biden said in remarks from the White House on Friday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday morning accused Putin of “murdering” his opponent – and warned that it was a threat to the entire West.

UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has said there must be “consequences” for Russian human rights abuses and called Mr Navalny “an incredibly brave man”.

Mr Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh confirmed on Saturday morning the 47-year-old’s death, citing an official notice given to his mother, Lydumila.

Ms Yarmysh, writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, demanded that Mr Navalny’s body be immediately handed over to his family.

“Alexei Navalny was murdered. His death occurred on 16 February at 2.17 p.m. local time, according to the official message to Alexei’s mother,” she wrote.

“An employee of the colony said that the body of Navalny is now in Salekhard. It was picked up by investigators from the IC. Now they are conducting ‘investigations’ with him. We demand that Alexei Navalny’s body be handed over to his family immediately.”

One of Navalny’s lawyers was informed by Russian authorities that “the cause of Alexey’s death has not yet been established, a new histological examination has been carried out” with results available next week.

Ms Yarmysh said: “It’s obvious that they are lying and doing everything they can to avoid handing over the body.”

She said that the committee investigating Navalny’s death had confirmed his body would not be handed over to his relatives until the investigation is complete.

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