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17 Feb, 2024 10:18

US response to Navalny death ‘interference’ in Russia’s affairs – envoy

The activist’s passing is just an excuse for Washington to push for new sanctions, Anatoly Antonov has said
US response to Navalny death ‘interference’ in Russia’s affairs – envoy

The US reaction to the death in prison of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny is an attempt to meddle in the country’s internal affairs, Anatoly Antonov, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington, has said. He also rebuked the US for not trying to get to the bottom of the issue before making accusations.

Russian prison officials said that the 47-year-old Navalny died in a penal colony north of the Arctic Circle on Friday, saying that he collapsed after a walk, and resuscitation efforts failed to revive him. The exact cause of death remains unclear, although a source for RT Russian suggested that it was a blood clot. The Kremlin said that medical professionals were looking into the matter.

Numerous Western leaders were quick to suggest that Russia bears responsibility for the death. Navalny was often described as an ‘opposition leader’ for his participation in anti-government protests.

US President Joe Biden acknowledged that while “we don’t know exactly what happened… there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was a consequence of something that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his thugs did.” US Vice President Kamala Harris also claimed that “Russia is responsible” for the activist’s passing.

On Saturday, Antonov described the barrage of accusations as a “flow of bile.” “We have a feeling that the main goal for Washington is not to get to the bottom of the problem, no matter how sensitive it may be, but to hit our country harder,” the envoy noted, suggesting that the US was looking for an excuse to introduce new sanctions against Russia.

Acknowledging that “the death of a person is always a tragedy,” Antonov stressed that it was important to figure out all the details of Navalny’s death. “However, local [US] politicians do not want to wait and have already blamed the Russian authorities,” he remarked.

According to the ambassador, Washington has no right to judge in the case. “There is another attempt to interfere in the internal policy of the Russian Federation,” he said. Antonov called the US position “unacceptable” and urged America to focus on its own domestic problems.

The opposition figure was jailed in 2021 over a long-standing fraud case, and in 2023 he was sentenced to 19 years on charges of fomenting, financing and carrying out extremist activities and “rehabilitating” Nazi ideology.