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Foreign Office Minister Says It Is "Premature" To Talk About More Russian Sanctions

Leo Docherty, Minister for Europe and North America, made a statemen in the House of Commons on the death of Alexei Navalny (parliamentlive.tv)

3 min read

A Foreign Office minister said it was too early to comment on the prospect of further sanctions on Russia as the Government said it believed Russia was “fully responsible” for the death of political activist Alexei Navalny.

Leo Docherty, Minister for Europe and North America, told the House of Commons that “those responsible” for Navalny’s death must be held accountable for their actions. He assured MPs that the Government was looking in to what steps it should take next.

US President Joe Biden in 2021 said there would be “devastating consequences” for Russia if Navalny died at the hands of the Vladimir Putin regime. 

Docherty said Navalny was a hero for millions and gave many of its citizens as a voice.

“The Russian authorities saw him as a threat. President Putin feared to even speak his name,” he said.

“Putin's Russia, imprisoned him on fabricated charges, poisoned him and sent him to an Arctic penal colony.

“Navalny was a man of huge courage and iron will. Even from his remote prison, he persisted in advocating for the rights of the Russian people.

“No one should doubt the doubt the dreadful nature of the Russian system.”

Stephen Doughty, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, said Navalny was “another victim” of the oppressive system which Putin had built in Russia.

He asked the Government whether it would review further sanctions on Russia, and added that would it consider targeting those responsible for “facilitating and enabling international corruption?”

Docherty said he would not comment on further sanctions but claimed the Government was “working at pace” and looking in to “all options”.

Navalny was the country’s leading opposition figure and was serving a long prison sentence in some of Russia’s most notorious prisons.

He was behind bars in the IK-6 penal colony, which is located around 150 miles east of Moscow, prior to being moved to IK-3 in December near the Russian arctic.

Navalny’s body was found on the evening Friday 16 February. There were bruises on his head and chest.

Lyudmila Navalnaya, who was Navalny’s mother, visited the prison with Navalny’s lawyer the following day to look at the body.

Navalny was a leading figure in protesting against Putin’s regime in Russia and attempt to expose corruption within central government.

He was put behind bars when he returned to Russia in 2021 after he had received emergency medical treatment.

It was reported Navalny was poisoned with nerve agent Novichok by the FSB in 2020.

Last year Navalny’s prison sentence was extended by a further 19 years after a series of allegations put forward by the Russian state including financing extremism.  

Human Rights Watch reported that prison authorities sent him to various punishment cells for most of the time he was in custody.

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