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Commemoration of Alexei Navalny (here opposite the Russian Embassy in London)

Photo: Vuk Valcic / dpa

According to his team, the Russian authorities want to keep the body of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who died in custody, under wraps for at least 14 days. "The investigators have told Alexei's lawyers and mother that they will not hand over the body," Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysch wrote on X on Monday. The reason given was "chemical tests" that should be carried out on the dead man.

"I'll say it again: Navalny's body is being hidden to cover up the traces of the murder," Yarmysch wrote in another tweet. This 14-day “chemical analysis” is a complete lie and mockery. She expects that the authorities will not hand over Navalny's body even after the 14 days have passed.

According to Russian authorities, the 47-year-old Navalny collapsed in freezing temperatures while walking in his Siberian prison camp on Friday. According to the prison service, attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful.

Human rights activists accuse the Russian power apparatus of murder. Navalny's wife Yulia explicitly blames Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin for the killing. The prominent opposition politician's employees also assume that Navalny was deliberately killed. US President Joe Biden and other Western politicians also see the Kremlin behind Navalny's death.

EU statement: Putin is responsible

The 27 EU states also issued a joint statement on the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. "The European Union is shocked by the death of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, for which President Putin and the Russian authorities ultimately bear responsibility," said a statement released by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. The EU will spare no effort to hold Russia's political leadership and the Russian authorities accountable - including through sanctions.

The EU also calls on the Russian authorities to facilitate an independent and transparent international investigation into the circumstances of Navalny's sudden death and to release people arrested at mourning rallies. Russia has been repeatedly called upon to ensure Navalny's safety and health.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, among others, had previously expressed herself even more clearly. She assumes that Navalny was deliberately murdered. The death of Navalny, who has been imprisoned since 2021, was announced on Friday.

Several countries appoint ambassadors

In addition to Germany, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have also summoned the charge d'affaires of the Russian embassies in their countries following the death of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. In talks on Monday in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius, Navalny's death was condemned and emphasized that responsibility for it lay with the Kremlin, it said in a statement. Russia has been called upon to fully clarify the circumstances of Navalny's death and to release the body to the family.

Russia's neighbor Finland and NATO candidate Sweden have also summoned the Russian ambassadors to their countries. The Finnish Foreign Ministry said on Monday via the online platform X that it had summoned the ambassador to emphasize Russia's responsibility for Navalny's death and to demand a full and transparent investigation. They continue to demand the release of all political prisoners in Russia.