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Canada Lambastes Russian Ambassador Over Navalny's Death

22.02.2024 06:57

Government urges Kremlin to conduct full inquiry.

Canada summoned and lambasted the Russian ambassador Wednesday over the death of dissident Alexei Navalny.

A spokesperson for Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Ambassador Oleg Stepanov was also told to urge the Kremlin to conduct "a full and transparent inquiry into the death."

Navalny, 47, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was serving a 19-year term in an Arctic penal colony when officials say he collapsed and died after a walk on Feb. 16. Officials said he was in jail for extremist activities, but most governments refuted the charge and said it was his criticism of Putin that landed him behind bars.

Russian authorities said they have not yet determined the cause of death. Despite pleas from the dissident's mother, they have refused to release Navalny's body for at least two weeks as the death is investigated.

Canada earlier condemned the death. In response, the Russian government released a blunt statement, telling Canada to "stop interfering in our internal affairs."

Canadian government spokesperson Isabella Orozco-Madison said the official who spoke to the Russian ambassador Wednesday also expressed concern over other political prisoners.

According to the Russian human rights group OVD-Info, there are more than 1,000 political dissidents imprisoned in Russia.

"Canada has already sanctioned those involved in the human rights abuses against Navalny, and we will join our partners in holding those responsible for his death to account as well," Orozco-Madison said.

The official also told the ambassador that Canada was concerned over the arrests of those who publicly mourned Navalny. There are reports that at least 300 people were arrested for protesting his death.​​​​​​​

Besides the sanctions enacted, Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair said Canada is looking at other ways to hold the Putin regime accountable for the death but said it was too early to mention details. -

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