Canada Summons Russian Ambassador in Protest of Alexei Navalny’s Death

Canada Summons Russian Ambassador in Protest of Alexei Navalny’s Death
Woman lay flowers to pay tribute to Alexei Navalny at a monument outside the historical Federal Security Service building in Moscow, on Feb. 21, 2024. (The Canadian Press/AP-Alexander Zemlianichenko)
The Canadian Press

Canada lambasted the Kremlin’s ambassador in Ottawa on Feb. 21 over the reported death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Russian custody.

The Canadian government says Ambassador Oleg Stepanov was summoned at the request of Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly.

Russia’s prison agency said on Feb. 16 that Mr. Navalny, who was serving a 19-year sentence in an Arctic penal colony, lost consciousness after a walk, and could not be revived.

President Vladimir Putin was quickly blamed for the death of his political opponent and leaders including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to hold Russia to account.

Global Affairs Canada says a senior official met with the envoy to convey Canada’s strong condemnation.

The official also called on the Russian government to conduct a full and transparent inquiry into the death, and release Mr. Navalny’s body to his family without delay.

“He also expressed concern for other political prisoners in Russia and emphasized the need for Russia to protect rather than punish/arrest the Russian citizens who are mourning the loss of Navalny,” the department said in a statement on Feb. 21.

“Alexei Navalny was a symbol of hope for the Russian people and his legacy will live on for generations to come. Canada has already sanctioned those involved in the human rights abuses against Navalny, and we will join our partners in holding those responsible for his death to account as well.”

In the wake of comments from Mr. Trudeau, Ms. Joly and others on Feb. 16, Russia’s embassy said on social media that Canada should stop “interfering into our internal affairs.”