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Navalny widow says Putin 'killed' her husband

February 19, 2024

Russian investigators have said they are carrying out a 14-day forensic "investigation" of the opposition leader's body. Navalny's family has so far been refused access to his remains.

Yulia Navalnaya addresses a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the European Council building in Brussels
Navalny's widow, Yulia, vowed to continue her husband's fight for a free RussiaImage: Yves Herman/AP/picture alliance

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of the late Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, released a video message Monday accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of killing her husband.

"Three days ago, Vladimir Putin killed my husband, Alexei Navalny," she said in the message released ahead of her attendance at an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.

She accused Russian authorities of hiding Navalny's body, which his family and lawyers have not been allowed to access. 

Navalnaya said she believes her husband was killed with the Novichok nerve agent, and said Russian authorities were holding his body until traces of the agent disappear.

She did not provide evidence, but said that "we know exactly why Putin killed Alexei three days ago ... We will tell you about it soon. We will definitely find out who exactly carried out this crime and how exactly. We will name the names and show the faces."

When Navalny's death was announced on Friday, Navalnaya said, "I want Putin and all his entourage, Putin's friends and his government to know: they will bear responsibility for what they did to our country, to my family, to my husband." 

 Yulia Navalnaya and Josep Borrell
Yulia Navalnaya attended a meeting of the EU's top diplomats on Monday Image: Yves Herman/AP/picture alliance

In 2020, Navalny was hospitalized in Germany after falling unconscious and being airlifted out of Russia. German doctors said there was "unquivocal proof" that Navalny had been poisoned with the Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent. 

Navalny recovered in a Berlin hospital and returned voluntarily to Russia in January 2021 where he was arrested upon arrival. 

In her video statement Monday, Navalnaya vowed to continue on the path her husband had followed.

"I will continue to fight for the freedom of our country," she said. "I want to live in a free Russia, I want to build a free Russia."

The Kremlin has denied involvement in Navalny's death and has dismissed claims that Putin was responsible.

Family barred from visiting morgue

Meanwhile, Navalny's mother said earlier Monday she had been refused access to her son's body, his spokesperson said.

Spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said Navalny's lawyers and his mother weren't allowed into the morgue in the northern Russian town of Salekhard on Monday morning.

"One of the lawyers was literally pushed out. When the staff was asked if Alexei's body was there, they did not answer," she wrote in a social media post.

She added that the investigative committee looking into the 47-year-old's death was extending their probe and that the cause of death was still "unknown." 

"They lie, buy time for themselves and do not even hide it," Yarmysh said.

Investigators to hold body for '14 days'

Yarymsh said that Russian investigators told Navalny's mother and lawyers that they are "not handing over the body and in the next 14 days they will conduct a chemical analysis, an investigation,"

Navalny fell unconscious and died on Friday at the "Polar Wolf" penal colony in Kharp, about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) northeast of Moscow, where he was serving a three-decade sentence, according to the prison service.

Navalny's relatives, supporters demand answers over death

Authorities 'nervous' about Navalny funeral

Mikhail Kasyanov, who was Russian President Vladimir Putin's first prime minister, and then had a falling out with the Kremlin, said that blocking access to Navalny's body is a power play by the Kremlin. 

"The authorities right now are very nervous about just the funeral," he told DW. 

"They don't know how it will be arranged by supporters of Alexei Navalny and by the family and by political forces," Kasyanov said. "In any case, just this funeral would be an opposition demonstration and authorities are very much afraid about that." 

Navalny's widow urges supporters to fight for a free Russia

rmt/nm,wmr (AFP, Reuters)