Canada summons Russian ambassador over Navalny’s death, urges full inquiry

Click to play video: 'Alexei Navalny’s widow Yulia Navalnaya refuses to be silent'
Alexei Navalny’s widow Yulia Navalnaya refuses to be silent
WATCH: Alexei Navalny's widow Yulia Navalnaya refuses to be silent – Feb 20, 2024

Canada summoned Russia’s ambassador on Wednesday in protest over the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and to demand an investigation by the Kremlin, a government spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Foreign Minister Melanie Joly’s office told Global News in a statement that a senior official from Global Affairs Canada met with Ambassador Oleg Stepanov “to convey Canada’s strong condemnation” over Navalny’s death in Russian custody.

During the meeting, the Canadian official also called on the Kremlin to conduct a “full and transparent inquiry into the death” and to release Navalny’s body to his family “without delay,” according to the statement.

Russia’s prison agency said Friday that Navalny, who was serving a 19-year sentence in an Arctic penal colony, lost consciousness after a walk and could not be revived.

Russian authorities have said the cause of Navalny’s death is still unknown and have refused to release his body for the next two weeks as the preliminary inquest continues, members of his team said.

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Stepanov was summoned at Joly’s request, spokesperson Isabella Orozco-Madison said.

Click to play video: 'Will Moscow hand over the body of Alexei Navalny?'
Will Moscow hand over the body of Alexei Navalny?

The Russian Embassy to Canada has yet to publicly comment on the meeting. In the immediate aftermath of Navalny’s death on Friday, the embassy issued a brief statement telling Canada to “stop interfering in our internal affairs” after Canadian officials condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government. The statement did not name Navalny, but said “every death is a tragedy.”

Orozco-Madison said the Canadian official expressed concern for other political prisoners in Russia, and for Russian citizens being arrested or otherwise punished for publicly mourning Navalny.

“Canada has already sanctioned those involved in the human rights abuses against Navalny, and we will join our partners in holding those responsible for his death to account as well,” Orozco-Madison said.

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Click to play video: 'Defence Minister Blair says feds exploring ways to hold ‘this very oppressive regime to account’ following Navalny death'
Defence Minister Blair says feds exploring ways to hold ‘this very oppressive regime to account’ following Navalny death

Other Canadian officials including Defence Minister Bill Blair have also said Canada is exploring ways to hold Putin’s regime to account, but have yet to provide details.

The United States and European Union are separately preparing additional sanctions on Russia in response to Navalny’s death, and to mark the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Britain on Wednesday imposed sanctions on six individuals in charge of the Arctic penal colony where Navalny died, including bans on travel to the U.K. and a freeze on their assets.

Canada sanctioned several Russian officials and their associates over the war in Ukraine.

Joly is in Brazil for the G20 foreign ministers meeting, where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also present.


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