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U.K. Sanctions Russian Officials at Prison Where Navalny Died

The IK-3 penal colony where Alexei Navalny died on Friday. Anatoly Maltsev / EPA / TASS

The United Kingdom on Wednesday announced sanctions against six Russian prison officials in charge of the Arctic penal colony where Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny died last week.

Travel bans and asset freezes were imposed on the head of the remote IK-3 penal colony in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district, Colonel Vadim Kalinin, and five of his deputies.

Britain is the first country to impose sanctions in response to Navalny's death on Friday.

Russian authorities have not named the cause of the activist's death and have refused to hand over his body to relatives pending a "chemical examination."

The British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office called on Moscow to release Navalny's body to his family immediately.

"Those responsible for Navalny's brutal treatment should be under no illusion — we will hold them accountable," Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a statement.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin promoted Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service deputy head Valery Boyarinev three days after Navalny's death.

The timing of that promotion has led Navalny's close aides to accuse Putin of "rewarding" the senior prison official for overseeing the harsh treatment of the Kremlin critic while serving his jail sentence. 

"It's clear that the Russian authorities saw Navalny as a threat and they tried repeatedly to silence him," Cameron said.

"[Russian authorities] poisoned him with Novichok in 2020, they imprisoned him for peaceful political activities, and they sent him to an Arctic penal colony. No one should doubt the oppressive nature of the Russian system," he added.

AFP contributed reporting.

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