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Minister says Navalny’s death was murder

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Minister says Navalny's death was murder

Foreign Office Minister Leo Docherty says it’s right to describe Alexei Navalny’s death as murder

It is right to describe Alexei Navalny’s death as murder, a Foreign Office minister has said.

Leo Docherty agreed with the description of the Russian opposition leader’s death amid calls from MPs to bolster the UK’s sanctions regime in response to the incident.

Mr Docherty said the politician’s family must be allowed access to his body after Russian authorities denied his mother access to a mortuary where his body is believed to be held.

Downing Street has not commented on possible future sanctions in response to the death of the jailed dissident in an Arctic penal colony on Friday, but paid tribute to Mr Navalny and called for a full investigation.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron has already signalled that there could be fresh sanctions against Russian officials, amid questions for Russian authorities over how Mr Navalny died and a mounting chorus of Western voices holding Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible.

On Monday, he said he expected the UK and G7 allies to impose fresh sanctions on Russians involved in the politician’s death.

In the Commons, Alicia Kearns, the Conservative chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “Alexei Navalny was murdered and it is important that we in this House call it out for what it was, because that is what he deserves.

“Following his murder, I was also in Munich, where I heard his wife Yulia (Navalnaya) ask us to stand by her. That is what we must now do.”

She urged ministers to heed calls to seize Russian assets, and called for the US to follow through on warnings it would act if Mr Navalny were to die, adding: “(US President Joe) Biden must now deliver on that threat or we will see more lives taken, such as that of Vladimir Kara-Murza.”

Foreign Office minister Mr Docherty replied: “She is right to use the word murder. We do seek to hold the state and the Russian leadership to account.

“Of course I can’t comment on the American position but with regard to our policy with regard to Russian state assets, we will continue to look at the appropriate legal path to ensuring that which is frozen might be utilised to bring benefit to those affected by this outrageous and illegal war in Ukraine.”

Mr Docherty added: “His death must be investigated fully and transparently. The Russian authorities must urgently confirm the location of Mr Navalny’s body to his family and allow them access to it.”

Shadow Foreign Office minister Stephen Doughty also urged ministers to “review further sanctions on Russia”, including a list of 35 individuals implicated in Mr Navalny’s 2020 poisoning.

SNP former Westminster leader Ian Blackford meanwhile called for immediate action against Russia, saying: “Why is Russia participating in the G20 summit this week? There needs to be a very clear message to Putin.

“The only message that he will understand is that we will take the swiftest action against this international thug.”

Conservative MP Bob Seely (Isle of Wight) warned that jailed British-Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza could “be next” unless “every conceivable course of action” is taken to free him.

Mr Seely said: “In my conversations with Evgenia Kara-Murza, she is adamant she wants everything now done if possible to get Vladimir out, despite the fact he went back on his own accord, because his health is in a fragile condition and if Putin can kill Navalny, he can kill Kara-Murza.”

Mr Kara-Murza, 42, has been a long-term critic of the Russian president and has survived two poisonings since 2015, which have left him with a form of nerve damage called polyneuropathy.

He was jailed by a Moscow court in April 2023, leading the UK to sanction 11 individuals involved in his case.

Downing Street would not comment on possible future sanctions following Mr Navalny’s death on Monday, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman telling reporters: “It is very clear that the Russian authorities saw him as a threat and that is why they imprisoned him on fabricated charges.

“The fact that the FSB (the Russian federal security service) poisoned him with a banned nerve agent and then sent him to an Arctic penal colony … his death must be fully investigated, and all of those in the Russian regime must be held to account.”

His widow Yulia has claimed his family is being blocked from seeing his body as Russian authorities sought to conceal that he was killed using nerve agent Novichok, which he accused the Kremlin of using to poison him in 2020.

The Kremlin’s most prominent critic, 47-year-old Mr Navalny was imprisoned in January 2021 after he returned to Russia from Germany where he was recuperating from a near-lethal poisoning with a nerve agent.

It remains unclear what response the UK Government and other allies may take against Mr Putin, with Moscow already facing heavy sanctions since the start of the war in Ukraine.

In a Cabinet meeting held on Monday, Rishi Sunak told ministers “Putin is not winning” but that the UK and its allies must “intensify” support for Ukraine as the country keeps up its defensive position against Moscow.

The Prime Minister concluded by “reiterating the importance of Ukraine’s success for Western democracy”, Downing Street said.

The row over Mr Navalny’s death comes as Ukraine and its allies prepare to mark the two-year anniversary of the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is struggling to convince Republicans in Washington to facilitate a major funding package for Kyiv.

Lord Cameron has urged legislators to pass the 60 billion US dollar (£47.6 billion) package.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to the Falkland Islands, the Foreign Secretary said: “I think the first thing is just to remember what a great man Alexei Navalny was, and what an appalling regime Putin runs in Russia.

“And yes, there will be consequences. What we do in these situations is we look at how someone’s human rights have been damaged and the individual people that caused that, and we’re able to go after those people with particular measures.

“Now we never pre-announce sanctions in advance, I can’t do that.

“But what I can tell you is at the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Munich, I pressed that the United Kingdom will be doing that and I urged other countries to do the same. And I believe very much that both those things will happen.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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