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European Countries Summon Russian Diplomats Over Navalny Death

Jörg Zägel / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

A host of European Union governments Monday summoned Russian diplomats following the prison death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands were among those saying Monday they had summoned diplomats from Russian embassies. London had done the same Friday evening.

Navalny's death in a remote prison in the Arctic, where the 47-year-old was serving a 19-year sentence after surviving a poisoning incident in 2020 that he accused the Kremlin of committing, was announced Friday.

Western countries have unanimously pointed blame at the Russian authorities for his death, three years into his sentence, which deprives the opposition of its most prominent figure a month ahead of presidential elections that are expected to enhance Vladimir Putin's firm grip on power.

"It is terrible that Alexei Navalny has paid the ultimate price for his fight for a free and democratic Russia," Hanke Bruins Slot, the Netherlands' foreign affairs minister, posted on X, formerly Twitter.

"This afternoon, I summoned the Russian ambassador to the ministry to demand clarification on his death," she said late Monday. "We strongly urge Russia to release Navalny's body to his family and relatives."

Earlier Monday, Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said in a statement he had summoned Russia's ambassador and called for the European Union to consider "a new sanctions regime targeting the internal repression in Russia."

On Friday, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said Madrid "demands that the circumstances" of the death be clarified.

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