Accountability Watch Committee expresses concern over suspicious death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

Published On: February 24, 2024 08:15 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Feb 24: The Accountability Watch Committee (AWC) has expressed concern about the suspicious death of Alexei Navalny, who was in a Russian prison. Navalny was a prominent political critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian government announced Navalny's death on February 16. Navalny, a 47-year-old opposition leader, anti-corruption activist, and democrat, died in a Russian prison. He was considered an opponent of the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Navalny reportedly fell unconscious while walking in the prison and died on his way to the hospital. However, despite being informed about Navalny's death, his wife and mother were not allowed to claim the body.

Four years ago, there was an unsuccessful attempt to kill Navalny by administering a deadly poison called "Novichok" in a conspiracy involving the Russian government. Nevertheless, he recovered after receiving high-level specialist treatment in Germany. Upon returning home, Navalny faced strict imprisonment under President Putin.

The AWC, in its statement, emphasized that Russia, as a major member state with veto power in the United Nations Security Council, has a responsibility to respect international laws, treaties, and agreements, including the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights issued by the United Nations.

The statement reads, "The Accountability Watch Committee condemns the ongoing attack on Ukraine and criticizes the policies of the Russian government, led by President Putin, for eliminating repressive and opposing forces internally, contrary to international humanitarian law and the basic principles of human rights."

Freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, free movement, the right to protest, the right to justice, and the right to live with self-respect are universally established basic rights. However, Navalny, an opposition leader against Putin's government, was imprisoned for three years for holding different political views, campaigning against corruption, advocating for civil liberties, and opposing the attack on Ukraine.

"The Putin government should take full responsibility for the suspicious death of Navalny, who was under the government's control. Additionally, the Monitoring Committee urges the United Nations to initiate an international independent judicial investigation into this incident," the statement further reads.

The AWC in the statement has also demanded an immediate end to the activities of arrests, torture, murders, and other serious violations of human rights taking place internally under the protection of the Russian government to suppress the opposition. 

The statement concludes, "We call for the immediate release of Navalny's lawyer, his supporters, and other innocent people imprisoned due to their political beliefs. Likewise, the Accountability Watch Committee appeals to the Russian government to cease the ongoing war against Ukraine, prevent further physical and human loss, and respect international humanitarian law, human rights laws, and principles." 

This statement was issued by Charan Prasain on behalf of the AWC, a group of prominent human rights defenders in Nepal.

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