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After Alexei Navalny died from ‘sudden death syndrome’ on Friday, G7 foreign ministers today called on Russia to fully clarify the circumstances of his death.

A statement released by Italy, which is currently chairing the Group of Seven wealthy nations, said: ‘They expressed their outrage at the death in detention of Alexei Navalny, unjustly sentenced for legitimate political activities and his fight against corruption’

It comes as Ukraine’s troops withdraw from the city of Avdiivka in a symbolic victory for Vladimir Putin as the city lies mostly destroyed and abandoned, with the vast majority of its pre-war population of around 34,000 having fled.

Russian investigators are alleged to have told the opposition leader’s mother as she visited the brutal IK-3 Polar Wolf penal colony where he was being held this morning.

Lyudmila Navalnaya was seen today travelling to the colony in northern Russia, where she was told her son died after returning from a walk at 14:17 local time on Friday.

Navalny’s allies say they were denied the opportunity to see the body, which would remain with the authorities until an investigation was complete.

Navalny’s lawyer, who arrived in the town of Salekhard with Navalny’s mother on Saturday, was allegedly told by the prison that the body was being held in the morgue. 

A contact at the Salekhard morgue later denied the body was there – leaving yet more question marks around the shock death of one of Putin’s most fierce critics.

The shock death has sparked a wave of vigils and protests across Russia, prompting police to crack down with force and make hundreds of arrests since Friday. 

Putin laughs at the world: Alexei Navalny is murdered – with his mother forced to hunt for his ‘missing’ corpse – the G7 can only meekly ask for ‘clarification’ and Ukraine’s troops abandon city in symbolic victory on a dark day for the West

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is dead, the prison service said on Friday

Navalny's allies say they were denied the opportunity to see the body, which would remain with the authorities until an investigation was complete

Navalny’s allies say they were denied the opportunity to see the body, which would remain with the authorities until an investigation was complete

It comes as Ukraine's troops withdraw from the city of Avdiivka in a symbolic victory for Vladimir Putin (pictured yesterday)

It comes as Ukraine’s troops withdraw from the city of Avdiivka in a symbolic victory for Vladimir Putin (pictured yesterday)

Police officers detain a woman during a gathering in memory of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny near the Wall of Grief monument in Moscow, Russia February 17, 2024

A car carrying Lyudmila Navalnaya, mother of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, arries to the prison colony in the town of Kharp on Saturday, February 17, 2024

Smoke rising from the Avdiivka chemical plant on Thursday as the Russian army advanced

Smoke rising from the Avdiivka chemical plant on Thursday as the Russian army advanced

Lyudmila Navalnaya said she had seen her son in the prison colony on Monday. At the time, she said: 'He was alive, healthy, cheerful.'

Lyudmila Navalnaya said she had seen her son in the prison colony on Monday. At the time, she said: ‘He was alive, healthy, cheerful.’

‘It’s obvious that the killers want to cover their tracks and are therefore not handing over Alexei’s body, hiding it even from his mother,’ his team said in a post on Telegram. 

In London, the Foreign Office summoned diplomats at the Russian Embassy and called for Mr Navalny’s death to be ‘investigated fully and transparently’ as Lord David Cameron warned there will be ‘consequences’ for the death.

The G7 demanded Russia ‘stop its unacceptable persecution of political dissent, as well as systematic repression of freedom of expression and unduly limitation of civil rights,’ in the statement today.

The shock death of Putin’s most fierce critic has sparked a wave of vigils and protests across Russia, prompting police to crack down with force and make hundreds of arrests since Friday.

It comes as Ukraine’s troops pull out of Avdiivka, a small industrial city in the eastern Donbas region which has been a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to Russian aggression since 2014.

It is close to the city of Donetsk, which pro-Russian separatists control as their capital and whose Moscow-backed fighters briefly took power in July 2014 before Ukrainian forces regained control.

Avdiivka ‘has been a symbol of Ukraine’s battlefield resolve and Russia’s military failures’, said analyst Ivan Klyszcz of the Estonia-based International Centre for Defence and Security today.

But it is ‘strategically insignificant’, added Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

‘It would have been a good foot in the door for a Ukrainian offensive’ on Donetsk city, but Ukraine cannot conduct such an offensive for at least two years and it made ‘no sense to sacrifice soldiers now’, he said.

For Vladimir Putin, whose re-election as Russian president in March is all but assured with the opposition muzzled or exiled, Avdiivka is a ‘significant victory’, according to the US-based Institute for the Study of War.

Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was reported to have died in prison on Friday, according to Russia‘s prison agency.

The Federal Prison Service said in a statement that Navalny, 47, felt unwell after a walk and ‘almost immediately lost consciousness’. Paramedics reportedly came to try to rehabilitate him without success.

Navalnaya was allegedly told her son had died from 'sudden death syndrome'

Navalnaya was allegedly told her son had died from ‘sudden death syndrome’

Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and lawyer Vasily Dubkov arrive at the regional department of Russia's Investigative Committee in the town of Salekhard in the Yamal-Nenets Region, Russia February 17, 2024

Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and lawyer Vasily Dubkov arrive at the regional department of Russia’s Investigative Committee in the town of Salekhard in the Yamal-Nenets Region, Russia February 17, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles on Friday as he visits a forge in Chelyabinsk, Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles on Friday as he visits a forge in Chelyabinsk, Russia

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia Navalnaya in September 2020

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia Navalnaya in September 2020

What is Sudden Death Syndrome?

Sudden adult death syndrome occurs when an otherwise healthy person passes away suddenly, with the cause likely being a heart condition.

In around one in 20 spontaneous heart-related deaths in the UK, no definite cause can be found.

During a post-mortem, a pathologist can usually detect abnormalities in a patient’s heart tissue, which may show signs of artery disease or a clot in the lung.

When nothing is found, the cause of death is deemed to be Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS).

This was once known as sudden adult death syndrome, however, children can also being affected.

Cot death may be partly caused by the same factors responsible for SADS.

Although unclear, SADS is thought to occur due to a disturbance in the heart’s rhythm, even if the person has no cardiovascular disease.

Due to the electrical function of the heart being affected, such disturbances can only be detected in life and not in death.

Rare diseases, such as Long QT Syndrome and sodium channel disease, can increase a person’s risk of SADS.

Many people with these conditions have no symptoms and may never be diagnosed.

If a family looses a relative due to SADS, genetic testing can be carried out to determine if they are at risk of the aforementioned diseases.

Most of these conditions are made worse with exercise and therefore, if diagnosed, a doctor may advise a person to avoid playing sports.

Source: SADS

Navalny, who was serving a 19-year sentence on charges of ‘extremism’, had only recently been moved from his former prison in the Vladimir region of central Russia to a grisly ‘special regime’ penal colony above the Arctic Circle.

His allies, a brave minority in Russia fighting corruption, said at the time they feared for his life after he ‘disappeared’ in December to travel to the remote region notorious for its long and severe winters – just months before the closely-watched Russian presidential elections next month.

Navalny was last seen via video link during a court hearing on Thursday.

Dressed in black prison uniform, he appeared to be in good spirits – his trademark humour back on show.

‘Your Honour, I will send you my personal account number so that you can use your huge salary as a federal judge to ”warm up” my personal account, because I am running out of money,’ he said.

State media reported he raised no health complaints during the session.

His mother said she had seen her son in the prison colony on Monday. At the time, she said: ‘He was alive, healthy, cheerful.’

One of Navalny’s lawyers, Leonid Solovyov, told the independent Novaya Gazeta paper that the Kremlin critic was ‘normal’ when a lawyer saw him on Wednesday.

But the Federal Prison Service announced his death in a statement yesterday, saying that Navalny felt unwell after a walk and lost consciousness. An ambulance arrived to try to save him, to no avail.

The sudden death of the former Anti-Corruption Foundation leader has provoked a strong response from supporters as far afield as Japan, Poland, Finland, Mumbai and San Francisco.

In several Russian cities, authorities have clamped down on protests and vigils, pictured dragging supporters away from makeshift memorials. Masked police were seen taking away mourners at a monument for victims of Soviet repression in Moscow.

The OVD-Info protest-monitoring group said more than 270 people had been arrested across Russia at meetings and memorials to Navalny since his death was announced. 

Hundreds of flowers and dozens of candles could be seen at the monument for victims of Soviet repression in Moscow and more flowers could be seen left in the snow on nearby pavements.

‘Alexei Navalny’s death is the worst thing that could happen to Russia,’ read a note left among the flowers and Navalny photos by the monument.

Authorities in the Russian capital said Friday they were aware of calls online ‘to take part in a mass rally in the centre of Moscow’ and warned people against attending.

‘We will not forget, we will not forgive. Those responsible will be punished!’ the note said. 

Police officers were also seen standing near a similar monument to political prisoners in St. Petersburg today. 

Protests are illegal in Russia under strict anti-dissent laws, and authorities have clamped down particularly harshly on rallies in support of Navalny.

Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of late Russian opposition leader Navalny, and lawyer Alexei Tsvetkov leave the regional department of Russia's Investigative Committee, February 17

Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of late Russian opposition leader Navalny, and lawyer Alexei Tsvetkov leave the regional department of Russia’s Investigative Committee, February 17

Lyudmila Navalnaya leaves the regional department of Russia's Investigative Committee in the town of Salekhard in the Yamal-Nenets Region, Russia February 17, 2024

Lyudmila Navalnaya leaves the regional department of Russia’s Investigative Committee in the town of Salekhard in the Yamal-Nenets Region, Russia February 17, 2024

People lay flowers and light candles near the memorial to political prisoners in St. Petersburg, Russia, 17 February 2024

People lay flowers and light candles near the memorial to political prisoners in St. Petersburg, Russia, 17 February 2024

Navalny's death shocked the world and immediately saw blame pointed towards Russia

Navalny’s death shocked the world and immediately saw blame pointed towards Russia

Tributes are laid as people demonstrate outside the Russian embassy, following the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in Copenhagen, Denmark, February 17, 2024

Tributes are laid as people demonstrate outside the Russian embassy, following the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in Copenhagen, Denmark, February 17, 2024

A man lays flowers to the monument to the victims of political repressions for late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on February 17, 2024

A man lays flowers to the monument to the victims of political repressions for late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on February 17, 2024

Riot police officers are seen deployed at the monument in Saint Petersburg on February 17

Riot police officers are seen deployed at the monument in Saint Petersburg on February 17

Riot police officers are seen deployed at the monument to the victims of political repressions in St. Petersburg on February 17, 2024

Riot police officers are seen deployed at the monument to the victims of political repressions in St. Petersburg on February 17, 2024

Earlier today, Volodymyr Zelensky issued a chilling warning to critics of Putin’s regime at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

‘Putin kills whoever he wants,’ the Ukrainian President said this morning. ‘Be it an opposition leader or anyone else who appears as a target to him. He maintains power through corruption and violence.’

‘Putin has murdered another opposition leader,’ Zelensky said outright. The Kremlin has denied involvement in Navalny’s death.

Zelensky spoke on the need to repel Putin’s advances east and depose him – as Russia prepares for its closely-watched presidential elections next month.  

He warned Saturday that his country’s battle to repel Russian troops was being held back by a lack of long-range weapons and artillery shells.

‘Keeping Ukraine in the artificial deficits of weapons, particularly in deficit of artillery and long-range capabilities, allows Putin to adapt to the current intensity of the war,’ he told the Munich Security Conference.

We have ruined the myth that Russian weapons are better than Western ones – that is why for the first time in Russian history Putin bowed to Iran and North Korea for help,’ he said.

‘Russia has only one specific military advantage at this time – namely the complete devaluation of human life. Constant Russian meat assaults prove this. International tolerance of the lack of rule of law in Russia since 1991 and Putin’s policy of controlled poverty has led to the effect that human life is worthless for Russian state.

Speaking ahead of the two-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Zelensky said: ‘[Putin] has just yesterday he tried to send us all a clear message as the Munich Security Conference opened, Putin murdered another opposition leader.

‘So please, let’s not fear Putin’s defeat and the destruction of his regime. Let’s instead work together to destroy what he stands for. It is his fate to lose, not the fate of the rules based world order to vanish.’

He told attendees: ‘Do not ask Ukraine when the war will end. Ask yourselves why Putin is still able to continue it.’

He went on: ‘Putin now openly justifies Hitler absolving him of responsibility of World War II and he makes the genocide of our people just the normal part of policy.’

‘After the murder of Alexei Navalny it is absolute to pursue Putin as the legitimate head of the Russian state. He is a thug who maintains power through corruption and violence

‘Putin only has two options ahead, to be in the dock in the Hague or to be killed by one of his accomplices who are now killing for him.’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at a conference in Munich on Saturday

The Ukrainian President said outright that Russia was responsible for the death of Navalny

Zelensky is not alone in accusing Russia of slaying the former lawyer and politician.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Saturday said Navalny’s ‘heroic opposition to Putin’s repressive and unjust regime inspired the world’.

‘We hold the Russian Government solely responsible for his treatment and death in prison,’ Wong said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

US President Joe Biden was equally blunt, saying: ‘Make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death’.

Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov added: ‘Alexei Navalny was tortured and tormented for three years… Murder was added to Alexei Navalny’s sentence’.

Russian investigative reporter Maria Pevchikh wrote on X: ‘Navalny was killed. It’s not very clear how to live further, but we will definitely come up with something together. 

‘Alexey will live forever in millions of hearts, in our thoughts and memories. Otherwise, why are we needed? 

‘The murderers will be punished. Inevitably. We won’t forgive anyone.’

Lord David Cameron signalled that there would be ‘consequences’ in the wake of the death of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Speaking to broadcasters at the Munich Security Conference, the Foreign Secretary said: ‘Reflecting overnight makes you think what an incredibly brave man this was. His life revealed so much about the true nature of (Vladimir) Putin’s ghastly regime. And his death has revealed that all over again.

‘There should be consequences. When appalling human rights outrages like this take place, what we do is we look at whether there are individual people that are responsible and whether there are individual measures and actions we can take. We don’t announce them in advance, so I can’t say anymore than that. But that is what we will be looking at.

‘Of course we have already summoned the ambassador and made clear our views about this dreadful event and the way this person was treated.’

He said he would be meeting with G7 foreign ministers at the German gathering: ‘I am clear that we will be taking action and I would urge others do to the same.’

The Kremlin said the West’s reaction was unacceptable and ‘absolutely rabid’. Putin has yet to comment on Navalny’s death. 

Lord David Cameron signalled that there would be 'consequences' in the wake of the death of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (pictured in Bulgaria, February 14, 2024)

Lord David Cameron signalled that there would be ‘consequences’ in the wake of the death of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (pictured in Bulgaria, February 14, 2024)

Still, Navalny’s vision for change in Russia will be kept alive by his team, his ally and spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said in an interview.

‘We lost our leader, but we didn’t lose our ideas and our beliefs’, Yarmysh told Reuters via Zoom, speaking from an undisclosed location. 

She said the team holds Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for what she called Navalny’s murder.

She did not provide evidence for this but pointed to an incident in 2020 when Navalny survived what Western doctors said was a nerve agent poisoning attempt on his life.

Putin denied at the time that the Russian state had tried to kill Navalny, saying it would have ‘finished the job’ if it had really wanted to eliminate him.

‘We knew that there was a risk, Alexei knew it as well. And yesterday they murdered him as they planned to do it three years ago’, said Yarmysh.





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