Canada summons Russian ambassador in protest of Alexei Navalny's death

OTTAWA — Canada lambasted the Kremlin's ambassador in Ottawa today 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 Friday that 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 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 Wednesday.

"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 Trudeau, Joly and others Friday, Russia's embassy said on social media that Canada should stop "interfering into our internal affairs."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press