Navalny’s body ‘in morgue’ as inmate describes ‘mysterious commotion’ night before death announced

World

Alexei Navalny’s body has been transferred to a morgue, according to a Russian news outlet, with guards reportedly “mysteriously” searching prison cells the night before his death.

Many have blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the opposition leader’s death, which was reported on Friday, and calls are growing for an independent investigation.

His body has been taken to the Salekhard District Clinical Hospital’s morgue, Novaya Gazeta Europe reports, but as of Saturday no post-mortem examination had been performed.

Latest as Russians defy authorities to lay flowers

A paramedic for the Salekhard ambulance service told the news outlet usual procedure did not appear to be followed in the wake of his death.

“Usually, the bodies of people who die in prison are taken straight to the Bureau of Forensic Medicine… but in this case it was taken to the clinical hospital for some reason,” he said.

“They drove him to the morgue, brought him in, and then stationed two policemen in front of the door.

“They might as well have put up a sign saying ‘something mysterious is going on here’.”

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Russians lay flowers for Alexei Navalny

While the death was first reported on Friday, one inmate told the publication there was a “mysterious commotion” on Thursday night.

“It all started when they really sped up our evening search, this usually happens on holidays when the guards are in a hurry to go and celebrate, but [that day] wasn’t a holiday,” the inmate said.

“Then they locked us up, forbade any movement between barracks, and tightened security.

“We heard cars drive on to the prison grounds late at night but couldn’t see through our cell windows what they were.”

The IK-3 penal colony.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
The IK-3 penal colony, where Alexei Navalny was held. Pic: Reuters

He also said guards conducted an in-depth search of the prisoners’ cells on Friday morning, seizing phones and other items.

Novaya Gazeta Europe’s source said he thought authorities appeared wrong-footed by his death, claiming the warden and the head of operations looked distraught.

His mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, visited the prison – the IK-3 penal colony in Kharp, situated in the Arctic Circle – on Saturday, while his wife shared an image of the two together on Instagram.

She was reportedly told he died of “sudden death syndrome”, but she has not been able to see the body.

Meanwhile tributes are still being laid by the Solovetsky Stone, in Lubyanka Square in Moscow, which is a monument that commemorates victims of political oppression.

Read more on this story:
What we know about the death of Putin’s critic
Russia accused of ‘avoiding’ handing body to family

More than 400 people have been arrested at events in memory of Mr Navalny, according to rights group OVD-Info.

Sky News’s Moscow correspondent Diana Magnay said visitors to the monument are being told by police to move on and not stay at the memorial for a long time.

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