IBAHRI joins global condemnation of Russia’s authorities as death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny announced

Saturday 17 February 2024

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) condemns the role Russia’s authorities may have had in the death of Russian opposition figure, Alexei Navalny – former lawyer and the most prominent critic of the regime – in prison while serving a thirty year sentence.

Following the reported poisoning of Navalny in 2020 and subsequent suffering of malnourishment, solitary confinement and torture whilst imprisoned north of the Arctic Circle, the indications are that the Russian government is accountable for his demise.

IBAHRI Director, Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, commented: ‘This is a pattern we have seen too many times with the imprisonment, and murders of Russian opposition figures. The death of Navalny signifies the death of major political opposition remaining in Russia, with virtually all forced into exile, imprisoned, or murdered. His death represents an immeasurable loss to the opposition movement against President Putin's regime and underscores the terror reigned upon those advocating for freedom, liberty, and political reform in Russia. His death must catalyse international action to support other opposition figures, including British citizen Vladimir Kara Murza who is currently languishing in prison, jailed in April 2023 for twenty-five years.’

The Russian Prison service confirmed Navalny’s death but stated that the circumstances were undetermined. A chorus of Foreign Officials have declared his death the direct responsibility of President Putin. Russian newspaper editor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov expressed his firm belief that Navalny's death was ‘murder’ as a deliberate result of the conditions of his detention.

Navalny was one of the most committed and prominent critics of President Putin’s regime. He played a significant role in protests in 2011-2012 by exposing fraud and corruption, and in 2013 he had earned 27 per cent of the vote in a Moscow mayoral election widely criticised for lack of transparency.

IBAHRI Co-chair and Immediate Past Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg Dr Jur hc, commented: ‘For his bravery in standing for the Rule of Law, democracy and human rights, a target was placed on Alexei Navalny’s back. In retribution, he faced multiple arrests, before the attempted murder by poisoning in 2020, and his eventual arrest in 2021 upon courageously returning to Russia and being sentenced to more than 30 years in prison on extremism and fraud charges. The IBAHRI urges an urgent independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Navalny as per the United Nations Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death.’

Navalny openly denounced his prosecution and imprisonment as politically motivated retaliation for his leadership of the anti-Kremlin opposition during the 2010s. In 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled his imprisonment in breach of Articles 5, 6, 11 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In 2023, the ECtHR also ruled that Russia had violated Article 2 by failing to investigate Navalny’s poisoning. Last week, the ECtHR had communicated its case to Russia initiated by Navalny for his continued detention since 2021.

IBAHRI Co-chair Mark Stephens CBE, commented: ‘Navalny exemplified unwavering courage and steadfast determination in challenging Putin's regime, advocating tirelessly for freedom, democracy, and human rights in Russia. His fearless stance against corruption and authoritarianism served as an inspiration to countless individuals both within Russia and around the world. In the face of so little enforceable accountability for the Kremlin’s brutal crackdown on opposition figures, the international community must stand together to take more concerted action on those who remain in prison in Russia, and opposition figures in exile who could fall victim to Russia’s ongoing attempts of transnational repression.’

The loss of Navalny reverberates deeply within the global human rights defenders’ community, highlighting the grave dangers faced by those who dare to speak out against injustice. Urgent action must be taken in the case of Vladimir Kara-Murza, and remaining opposition figures imprisoned in Russia. The Kremlin’s unrelenting repression of opposition voices should not continue unabated.


For further information, please contact: the IBA Human Rights Institute at IBAHRI@int-bar.org

Notes to the Editor 

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  2. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
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  4. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for the administration of justice, fair practice, and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.

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Website page link for this news release:

Short link: www.tinyurl.com/y63dz4am
Full link: www.ibanet.org/IBAHRI-joins-global-condemnation-of-Russias-authorities-as-death-of-Russian-opposition-leader-Alexei-Navalny-announced