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Navalny’s family confirms death, requests body be returned ‘immediately’

The family members of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny confirmed his death Saturday and requested that his body be returned from investigators “immediately.”

Navalny, a public figure for campaigning against official corruption and organizing protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin, died in the country’s highest security prison on Friday, the Russian Federal Prison Service said.

His spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that despite the “official message” to Navalny’s mother that her son died February 16 at 2:17 p.m. local time, Navalny was murdered.

An employee of the colony said that Navalny’s body is now in Salekhard, which is about 30 miles south of Kharp, where he died in prison.

His body was “picked up by investigators from the IC. Now they are conducting ‘investigations with him,” Yarmysh posted. “We demand that Alexey Navalny’s body be handed over to his family immediately.”

The prison said that Navalny felt unwell after a walk and lost consciousness. An ambulance arrived, and its crew tried to rehabilitate him but was unsuccessful. He was serving a 19-year sentence for extremism, which he said was a political attack from Putin.

Yarmysh said that Navalny’s mother and lawyer have arrived at the morgue in Salekhard on Saturday, but it is closed.

“The colony has assured them it’s working and Navalny’s body is there. The lawyer called the phone number which was on the door,” her post said. “He was told he was the seventh caller today. Alexey’s body is not in the morgue.”

Yarmysh later posted that the lawyers were informed that the investigation of Navalny’s body had been concluded and determined that “something criminal had not been established.”

In December, Navalny was transferred from a different prison to the country’s highest-security level facility near the Arctic Circle. The “special regime” penal colony prison is in an area known for its severe winters.

He has been imprisoned since 2021 when he returned to Russia after recovering from a poisoning he blamed on Putin. Putin has denied trying to kill him with the nerve acting poison.

His death quickly triggered consternation around the world and many have claimed that the death is on Putin’s hands, including President Biden.

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