UK imposes sanctions on prison officials at colony where Alexei Navalny died News
UK imposes sanctions on prison officials at colony where Alexei Navalny died

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron announced on Wednesday that sanctions will be imposed on senior officials of the prison where the Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny was detained and later died. The sanctions on six individuals will include a ban from entering the UK and asset freezes. The UK is the first country to impose sanctions in response to Navalny’s death.

The content of the sanctions will prevent the named individuals from entering, leaving or remaining in the UK and impose a total freeze of any funds or economic resources held in the UK. In addition, the UK government called for the immediate return of Navalny’s body to his family, along with a full and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death. A spokesperson for Navalny’s family has claimed he was “murdered” and asserted that authorities are withholding his body to hide Navalny’s cause of death.

Alexei Navalny was a leading opposition figure in Russia and a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Navalny had been imprisoned in a penal colony in the Arctic Circle for three years before his death. During his time in prison, Navalny was subjected to brutal conditions including periods of solitary confinement for up to two weeks at a time and outside walks at -32°C (26°F ). His family confirmed he had died whilst in prison on February 16 after a serious decline in his health. He had been an alleged target of the Kremlin for years and had previously survived an assassination attempt when he was poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok in September 2020.

Cameron said in the announcement of sanctions:

It’s clear that the Russian authorities saw Navalny as a threat and they tried repeatedly to silence him. FSB operatives poisoned him with Novichok in 2020, they imprisoned him for peaceful political activities, and they sent him to an Arctic penal colony. No-one should doubt the oppressive nature of the Russian system…Those responsible for Navalny’s brutal treatment should be under no illusion – we will hold them accountable.

The announcement was confirmed in the UK Parliament by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who described Navalny as “courageous” and that he has “dedicated his whole life to the cause of freedom.” World leaders have condemned the Russian authorities following Navalny’s death with US President Joe Biden, stating that “Putin is responsible.”

The six individuals subject to the sanctions were in senior positions at the prison and included Vadim Konstantinovich Kalinin, who oversaw the running of the colony and five deputy head prison officers. Specifically, the UK is imposing these sanctions in accordance with its Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations for the prison officials’ role in activity that violates the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment and the right to life.

Prior to his imprisonment, Navalny, a trained lawyer, dedicated his life to exposing corruption in the Russian government. His YouTube video investigations had a global audience and received hundreds of millions of views online. In response to Navalny’s death, there have been rallies across Russia honouring his memory; police detained more than 400 people at these rallies last weekend.