Navalny widow urges EU not to recognise Russia election

Navalny's widow: 'Stand with me'

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, has asked the European Union not to recognise Russia’s March election, which is almost certain to give President Vladimir Putin another six-year term.

Navalnaya used a video message from abroad on Monday to call on supporters to oppose Putin with greater fury than ever and free Russia from what she characterised as a corrupt elite of “bandits in uniform, thieves and murderers”.

“Do not recognise these elections,” Navalnaya told European Union foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels on Monday, according to a transcript supplied on Tuesday by a spokeswoman.

“A president who assassinated his main political opponent cannot be legitimate by definition,” Navalnaya said.

Navalnaya has accused Putin of killing her husband and said evidence would be provided shortly.

Foreign leaders including US President Joe Biden have blamed Putin for the death and warned of consequences.

They have given no evidence.

Putin has yet to comment in public on Navalny’s death.

The Kremlin has denied involvement and said foreign claims that Putin was responsible are completely unacceptable.

Opinion polls show Putin, 71, has an approval rating of more than 80 per cent ahead of the March 15-17 presidential election in which three minor candidates are challenging him.

With the full support of the Russian state, the state-run media and almost no mainstream public dissent, he is certain to win.

Opposition politicians say the election offers a fig leaf of democracy to cover the reality of a corrupt dictatorship.

The Kremlin says Putin is by far Russia’s most popular politician.

Navalny, 47, fell unconscious and died suddenly on Friday after a walk at the “Polar Wolf” penal colony above the Arctic Circle where he was serving a three-decade sentence, the prison service said.

Three days after his death, Navalnaya, a 47-year-old mother-of-two, alternated between rage and grief as she signalled in a video statement that she would help lead a shell-shocked opposition to resist Putin, Russia’s paramount leader for more than two decades.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Putin had not watched her video statement.

Navalnaya said the reason the authorities had still not handed over Navalny’s body to his mother Lyudmila – who travelled to the penal colony at the weekend – was because they were waiting for traces of a Novichok nerve agent to leave his corpse.

She provided no evidence for her allegation.

Navalny’s allies have cited a Russian investigator as saying the authorities would need at least 14 days to conduct various chemical tests on his body and could therefore not hand his corpse over yet.

Lyudmila Navalnaya, 69, asked Putin in a video message released on Tuesday to hand over her son’s body.

“Let me finally see my son,” she said.

“I appeal to you, Vladimir Putin. Resolving this issue depends on you alone. Let me finally see my son.

“I demand that Alexei’s body be released immediately so that I can bury him humanely.”

She also sent an official letter to Putin with the same demand.

Asked about Yulia Navalnaya’s allegation that Putin had killed her husband, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday he could not comment given the circumstances.

“We leave it without comment. Of course, these are absolutely unsubstantiated, obnoxious accusations against the head of the Russian state. But given that Yulia Navalnaya was widowed just days earlier, I will leave it without comment”.

Peskov said Navalnaya’s talk of a nerve agent being used against her husband was unfounded.

“I am not familiar with this statement. But if it contained such words, it is nothing but unsubstantiated accusations because they are not supported by anything, not confirmed,” he said.

Asked about police detaining some people who laid flowers at monuments in Moscow and other cities after Navalny’s death, Peskov said the police had acted in accordance with the law.


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