Russian bosses of Arctic penal colony where Alexei Navalny was 'detained and killed' sanctioned by British government

21 February 2024, 14:05 | Updated: 21 February 2024, 14:09

Russian prison bosses at the Arctic penal colony where Alexei Navalny was "detained and killed" have been banned from the UK and had their assets frozen
Russian prison bosses at the Arctic penal colony where Alexei Navalny was "detained and killed" have been banned from the UK and had their assets frozen. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Russian prison bosses at the Arctic penal colony where Alexei Navalny was 'detained and killed' have been banned from the UK and had their assets frozen.

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Britain is the first country to impose sanctions in response to Navalny's death - which has been widely blamed on the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin by Western leaders.

The new measures against the penal colony heads where the Russian opposition figure was held - which included travelling to the UK - were announced by Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron.

"Those responsible for Navalny's brutal treatment should be under no illusion - we will hold them accountable," Lord Cameron said.

"No one should doubt the oppressive nature" of the Russian regime, he added, as the six individuals were sanctioned.

Vadim Konstantinovich Kalinin, who oversaw the brutal prison camp where Mr Navalny was kept in solitary confinement for up to two weeks at a time, is one of the individuals targetted, the Foreign Office announced.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a rally in Moscow, January 28, 2018
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a rally in Moscow, January 28, 2018. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Alexei Navalny 'killed with KGB punch to the heart' after being forced to spend hours outside in freezing temperatures

Read More: Putin plans to launch ‘killing spree’ against Russia critics in the UK after Alexei Navalny 'murder'

A further five penal colony heads have also been sanctioned over "activity that violates the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the right to life", it added.

Those sanctioned have been identified as:

  • Colonel Vadim Konstantinovich Kalinin - head of the IK-3 Arctic colony nicknamed 'Polar Wolf'
  • Lieutenant Colonel Sergey Nikolaevich Korzhov - deputy head
  • Lieutenant Colonel Vasily Alexandrovich Vydrin - deputy head
  • Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Ivanovich Pilipchik - deputy head
  • Lieutenant Colonel Aleksandr Vladimirovich Golyakov - deputy head
  • Colonel Aleksandr Valerievich Obraztsov - deputy head

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

"FSB operatives poisoned him with Novichok in 2020, they imprisoned him for peaceful political activities, and they sent him to an Arctic penal colony."

He continued: "We're today sanctioning the most senior prison officials responsible for his custody in the penal colony where he spent his final months.

"Those responsible for Navalny's brutal treatment should be under no illusion - we will hold them accountable."

Despite the sanctions, Conservative MP and chairwoman for the Foreign Affairs Committee, Alicia Kearns MP, said: "We need to go further than this. A lot further."

Alexei Navalny appears via a video link from the Arctic penal colony in Kharp, in the Yamalo-Nenetsk region about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) northeast of Moscow, February 15, 2024
Alexei Navalny appears via a video link from the Arctic penal colony in Kharp, in the Yamalo-Nenetsk region about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) northeast of Moscow, February 15, 2024. Picture: Alamy

On Friday, the US is also expected to issue its own "major sanctions package" in response to Navalny's death.

It comes after Foreign Office minister Leo Docherty described the death of Navalny as "murder". The Kremlin has unsurprisingly dismissed suggestions it is to blame, however.

Navalny was one of the most prominent and persistent critics of the Kremlin, remaining a thorn in Putin's side even while behind bars via scathing attacks that his associates continued to post on social media.

He had been transferred in December to the town of Kharp, in the remote Yamalo-Nenets region notorious for its long and severe winters, in a move decried by his supporters as yet another attempt to silence him.

The opposition politician's family has since been denied access to his body as Moscow continues to deny allegations of a cover-up.

On Wednesday, Rishi Sunak told the Commons that the UK and its allies were considering all options to respond to the death of Navalny.

The Prime Minister said: "The whole House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to the family of Alexei Navalny. "He died for a cause to which he dedicated his whole life, freedom.

"And to return home knowing that (Vladimir) Putin had already tried to have him killed was one of the most courageous acts of our time.

"Together with our allies we are considering all options to hold Russia and Putin to account and this morning we sanctioned those running the prison where Alexei Navalny's body still lies."

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