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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Comment by UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Liz Throssell on death of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny

16 February 2024

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny reacts during an interview with Reuters in Moscow, Russia, July 12, 2017. Picture taken July 12, 2017. © REUTERS/Grigory Dukor/File Photo

We are appalled at the news that Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has died in prison.

The UN Human Rights Office, along with others, had repeatedly raised serious concerns relating to the charges against Navalny and his repeated detention which appeared to be arbitrary.

Last August, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk highlighted that the latest 19-year sentence raised questions about judicial harassment and instrumentalization of the court system for political purposes in Russia and called for Navalny’s release.

We note that a State has a heightened duty to protect the lives of individuals deprived of their liberty. If someone dies in the custody of the State, the presumption is that the State is responsible – a responsibility that can only be rebutted through an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation carried out by an independent body. We urge the Russian authorities to ensure such a credible investigation is carried out.

We call on the Russian authorities to end the persecution of politicians, human rights defenders and journalists, among others. All those who are held or have been sentenced to various prison terms in relation to the legitimate exercise of their rights, including the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, should be immediately released and all charges against them dropped.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva
Liz Throssell + 41 22 917 9296 / [email protected] 
Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / [email protected]

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