/Navalny’s body found bruised in Arctic morgue

Navalny’s body found bruised in Arctic morgue


The bruised body of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, has been found in a hospital morgue in the Arctic, two days after he died in a nearby prison.

A paramedic told Russian opposition media that there were bruises on Navalny’s head and chest when his body was brought into the Salekhard District Clinical Hospital.

“Such injuries, described by those that saw them, appear from seizures,” the unnamed paramedic told the exiled Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

“The person convulses, they try to restrain him, and bruises appear. They also said that he also had a bruise on his chest. That is, they still tried to resuscitate him, and he died, most likely, from cardiac arrest.”

Russian prison officials said that Navalny died on Friday after falling ill during a short walk at IK-3, a notoriously brutal prison in the Russian Arctic.

Navalny’s mother failed to find his body at the morgue in Salekhard on Saturday and his colleagues at the Anti-Corruption Foundation accused the Russian authorities of a cover-up.

Alexei Navalny

Western leaders have accused Putin of murdering Navalny – Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Reporters said no autopsy had yet been performed. They also said that two unscheduled flights from Moscow had landed on Saturday at Salekhard, possibly with autopsy specialists.

“The first jet landed at about six in the evening. It was met by cars of the Investigative Committee. And the second one arrived an hour and a half later,” Novaya Gazeta quoted an unnamed source as saying.

Navalny was Vladimir Putin’s most serious opponent. Western leaders have accused the Kremlin of murdering him. He was facing three decades in prison on various charges and had been transferred to IK-3 shortly before Christmas.

David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, said on Sunday that Putin should face war crimes charges for the death of Navalny.

“I’d like to see Putin in front of that special tribunal, held to account for all of his crimes, not just in Ukraine, but as we are seeing just in the last 48 hours in Russia as well,” he told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg programme on Sunday.

The sudden death of Navalny shocked liberal-minded Russians and triggered rare protests in Russia where demonstrations against the Kremlin are banned.

OVD-Info, a Russian activist group that monitors the Russian police, said that 400 people had been detained across Russia, mainly for laying flowers for Navalny at memorials to Soviet repression.

Reports from across Russia said that the plain-clothes security services, often wearing surgical masks, were following people who had laid flowers. Different police forces appeared to respond differently, with some blocking access to memorial sites and others tearing them down.

These were the biggest nationwide protests in Russia against the authorities since September 2022, when Putin ordered a mobilisation to recruit soldiers for his war in Ukraine.

Analysts said that the timing of Navalny’s death is important for the Kremlin which wants to use a presidential election next month to showcase support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

Ben Noble and Nikolai Petrov, both Fellows on the Russia Programme at Chatham House, said that the death of Navalny had undermined Russia’s beleaguered, fragmented and exiled opposition.

“There is no obvious figure to take up the role that Navalny crafted for himself, of Vladimir Putin’s main opponent. There will be no Navalny 2.0 in the short-term, at least,” they said.

On Sunday Navalny’s wife, Yulia, posted a new picture of the two of them together on social media, writing “I love you”.

The post on Instagram showed a picture of the two together, their heads touching as they watched a performance of some kind.

Yulia Navalny posted this picture of the couple on Instagram

Yulia Navalny posted this picture of the couple on Instagram

Navalny’s death has had deep reverberations.

Donald Trump, who has been accused of withholding funding and weapons from Ukraine via Congress, came under fire on Sunday for his continued silence over Navalny’s death.

“The fact that he won’t acknowledge anything with Navalny – either he sides with Putin and thinks it’s cool that Putin killed one of his political opponents, or he just doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Nikki Haley, his only Republican rival for the presidential nomination, said on ABC’s “This Week”.

“Either one of those is concerning. Either one of those is a problem,” added the Republican candidate, who is trailing far behind Mr Trump in the race for their party’s nomination.

Navalny’s still-unexplained death at 47 in a prison in Russia’s Arctic has drawn powerful condemnations from leaders around the world, starting with Joe Biden, the US president, who has squarely blamed Putin.

But Mr Trump, Mr Biden’s likely opponent in November, has yet to say a word about it at any of several public appearances since Navalny’s death was reported on Friday.

The Trump campaign, asked for comment, has directed reporters to a post on Mr Trump’s Truth Social platform that says: “America is no longer respected because we have an incompetent president who is weak and doesn’t understand what the world is thinking.”

The post does not mention Navalny, Russia or Putin.

The lack of comment comes days after Mr Trump stunned Western allies by saying he would “encourage” Russia to attack members of the Nato military alliance who had not met their financial obligations.

The suggestion cast a pall over a major global security conference in Munich, drawing a warning from Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of Nato, that Mr Trump should not “undermine” the alliance’s security.

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