'These things happen’: Alexei Navalny ‘simply died’ and murder allegations ‘make no sense’, Russian ambassador says

4 April 2024, 07:00 | Updated: 4 April 2024, 10:34

Watch again: Nick Ferrari interviews the Russian Ambassador

By Flaminia Luck

Alexei Navalny died from a "sudden failure in his health" the Russian Ambassador to the UK has revealed in an exclusive interview with LBC.

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Andrei Kelin sat down on Wednesday and was quizzed by Nick Ferrari on the death of the Russian opposition leader.

Navalny died in February in a penal colony in the Arctic Circle, sparking condemnation across the world and raising questions over the circumstances surrounding his death.

When probed on how Navalny died, Ambassador Kelin told LBC it was "absolutely wrong" to think something "difficult" had happened to Navalny.

He said: "President Putin had said he was prepared to exchange him [Navalny] for some others and it is absolutely wrong to think that he, or something difficult happened.

"He simply died. These things happen."

When pressed on the allegations from Navalny's widow, Yulia, that her husband was murdered, he said the accusation made "no sense at all".

Watch again: Nick Ferrari interviews the Russian Ambassador

Nick asked Mr Kenin why so many of Putin's opponents die in strange ways, and cited examples such as Yevgeny Prigozhin who was killed in a plane crash last year.

Navalny was Putin's arch enemy and perhaps his most vociferous critic.

In February, Western leaders accused the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin of orchestrating Navalny's killing.

But Ambassador Kelin said Navalny had a "sudden failure" in his health as it was a "difficult time for him".

"He was sentenced for committing criminal acts and he was serving a long term.

"During serving this he has done everything to worsen because he was not obedient to the powers," he added.

Navalny was serving 19 years on extremism charges in one of Russia's toughest penal colonies, nicknamed 'Polar Wolf'.

The colony is located in the Yamalo-Nenets region in the Arctic Circle where temperatures reach -20C.

His death led to hundreds of Russians across the country flocking to impromptu memorials with flowers and candles.

Authorities at the time rushed to detain any people or events demonstrating sympathy for Putin's fiercest and most well-known opponent.

In May 2022, Navalny appeared on a screen set up at a courtroom of the Moscow City Court via a video link from his prison colony
In May 2022, Navalny appeared on-sceen in a Moscow courtoom via a video link from his prison colony. Picture: Getty Images

When probed about the validity of the recent Russian presidential election, Kenin said the results were "absolutely fair".

"The result of the election 87% in favour of Putin, with a turnout of 77%, shows that our political system is absolutely stable."

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When asked about the UK's next election, Ambassador Kelin did not know who Sir Keir Starmer was.

Starmer previously called for the Russian Ambassador to be expelled from the UK when Ukraine was invaded.

In response to this, Ambassador Kelin said: "If he will decide to do this we will take note of that. We also have an ambassador in Moscow so we are always prepared.

He said while he has never met Sir Keir, he does not believe they will have good relations.

'Never short of accusations'

Ambassador Kelin also denied any Russian involvement in the circulation of stories about the health of the Princess of Wales, as he dismissed the rumours as "funny".

"This is very interesting. I have heard about that and I was amazed in fact.

"I'm afraid to say that probably the British media are never short of accusations against Russia."

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He added the Russian embassy's website wished Kate a full recovery.

He also denied that Russia recently attempted to block the signal on Grant Shapps' plane while flying close to Russian territory.

He added the aircraft did not have any equipment to "counter these things".

He also called for the "cessation of fire" in Israel, saying the country has gone "far beyond" self-defence.

Ukrainian MP Oleksii Goncharenko told LBC News: “We want this war to stop this minute because Ukraine never started it, and they want to continue this war.

“If Russia really wants to stop the war, they can do it in one day. They just need to get out from Ukrainian territory. That's all. We never attack their territory. We do not want any inch of their territory.

“They want to finish the war with Ukraine by absorbing Ukraine to take Ukrainian men and to attack with them. Baltic States, Poland, Romania. That's the fact.

“I don't know if you know, but in Russia their state TV every day is saying how they will destroy London by nuclear weaponry or by something else.

“So for me, the fact that their ambassador is still sitting in London, the country which is saying every day will destroy them, Putin is saying we have the war with Anglo Saxons. I would kick [this man] out from London as soon as possible, but that's my personal opinion.”