Navalny's body must be returned to family, government says

Alexei Navalny's wife Yulia Navalnaya attends the European Union Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels, Belgium
Alexei Navalny's wife Yulia Navalnaya attends the European Union Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels, Belgium - EU Council/Pool/Anadolu via Getty Images
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Alexei Navalny’s body must be returned to his family, the Government has said, after the Russian opposition leader collapsed and died in an Arctic penal colony on Friday.

Leo Docherty, a junior foreign office minister, told the House of Commons: “His death must be investigated fully and transparently. The Russian authorities must urgently confirm the location of Mr Navalny’s body to his family and allow them access to it.”

Mr Docherty also suggested that the Government was considering bringing in further sanctions against Russia.

“We are working at pace and looking at all options in that regard,” he told MPs.

Mr Navalny’s bruised body was reportedly found in an Arctic morgue two days after his death. A Russian paramedic said the marks on his chest and head were seemingly caused during attempts to revive him.

06:21 PM GMT

That's all for now

Thanks for following our live coverage of the latest updates from the Ukraine-Russia war. This live blog is now closed.

05:55 PM GMT

Ellwood: Dismiss the Russian ambassador

Tobias Ellwood, a former chairman of the defence committee, called on the Government to dismiss the Russian ambassador while keeping diplomatic backchannels open. Leo Docherty did not respond to the suggestion directly.

05:51 PM GMT

Rees-Mogg: Putin's regime is murderous and barbarous

Leo Docherty was asked by Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary, why Britain should maintain diplomatic relations with Vladimir Putin’s “murderous and barbarous regime”.

The junior foreign office minister replied: “The benefit is in order to deliver messages of condemnation and outrage and to continue to advocate for consular access to those held by the Russian regime.”

05:47 PM GMT

Docherty: 'Murder' is the right word for Navalny's death

Leo Docherty said Alicia Kearns, head of the foreign affairs committee, is right to use the word “murder” with regards to Alexei Navalny’s death.

On seizing Russian assets, he said: “We will continue to look at the appropriate legal path to ensuring that that which is frozen might be utilised to bring benefit to those affected by this outrageous and illegal war in Ukraine.”

The Government is also considering a “special tribunal” to hold Russia accountable for invading Ukraine, Mr Docherty added.

05:42 PM GMT

Government weighing up future sanctions

The Government is considering bringing in further sanctions in response to the death of Alexei Navalny, Leo Docherty said.

He said: “It would be premature... to comment on the prospect of future sanctions in addition to the sanctions that have already been put in place.

“But I can assure... the House that we are working at pace and looking at all options in that regard.

“Of course we will continue our very active diplomatic work to crack down on networks of corruption surrounding the Russian state and its kleptocracy.”

05:38 PM GMT

'We hold the Russia fully responsible'

The Government has told Russian authorities that Alexei Navalny’s family must be allowed access to his body, which was recently located in an Arctic morgue.

Leo Docherty, a junior foreign office minister, told the House of Commons: “No one should doubt the dreadful nature of the Russian system. Years of mistreatment at the hands of the state had a serious effect on Mr Navalny’s health.

“His death must be investigated fully and transparently. The Russian authorities must urgently confirm the location of Mr Navalny’s body to his family and allow them access to it.

“On Friday, the FCDO summoned the Russian ambassador to express our outrage at Mr Navalmny’s death. We made clear that we hold the Russian authorities fully responsible.

“I can assure the House that we are working at pace to explore all options.”

05:34 PM GMT

Navalny 'was an inspiration to millions', Docherty says

Leo Docherty, a junior foreign officer minister, told the House of Commons: “I am sure I speak for the whole House in spending our deepest condolences to Mr Navalny’s family, friends and supporters.

“We are appalled at the news of his death. Mr Navalny dedicated his death with great bravery to exposing corruption he called for free and fair politics and held the Krmelin to account.

“He was an inspiration to millions and many Russians felt that he gave them a voice. The Russian authorities saw him as a threat, President Putin feared to even speak his name.”

03:05 PM GMT

Pictured: A Ukrainian military ambulance in action on the eastern front

A Ukrainian military ambulance waiting for the order to evacuate wounded soldiers in the direction of Bakhmut
A Ukrainian military ambulance waiting for the order to evacuate wounded soldiers in the direction of Bakhmut - Jose Colon/Getty Images

03:03 PM GMT

Trump breaks silence on Navalny

Donald Trump has made his first public comment on the death of Alexei Navalny in a cryptic social media post.

With his comments, Mr Trump refrained from directly blaming Vladimir Putin for the death of the Russian opposition leader. He also appeared to link Navalny’s death to his own legal travails.

“The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country,” Mr Trump wrote in a social media post.

“It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction. Open Borders, Rigged Elections, and Grossly Unfair Courtroom Decisions are DESTROYING AMERICA. WE ARE A NATION IN DECLINE, A FAILING NATION! MAGA2024”

Joe Biden on Friday directly blamed Vladimir Putin for the death in a the penal colony north of the Arctic Circle, as did Mr Trump’s main Republican rival, Nikki Haley. “Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” Mr Biden said.

02:50 PM GMT

Army recruitment laws could ‘paralyse’ Ukraine's economy, warn businesses

New army recruitment laws could “paralyse” the Ukrainian economy, the country’s leading business associations have warned.

“Business asks the parliament not to ‘paralyse’ the country’s economy with the new mobilisation legislation,” the European Business Association, which unites about 1,000 companies, said in a statement. “A balance is needed between the military front and the economy.”

Their concerns include wanting to avoid loss of staff  from export businesses and those supplying the army – which are both crucial to keeping the Ukrainian war effort afloat.

Their concern illustrates the tightrope the government must walk as it seeks to replenish battlefield manpower while protecting the fragile economy, which contracted by a third in 2022 before making a recovery last year.

Ukraine moved to tighten the rules on drafting civilians into the army late last year with the number of volunteer fighters running low. Lawmakers are due to discuss a bill to tighten rules on mobilisation in a final reading later this month.

02:36 PM GMT

Germany leads call for further Russian sanctions

Germany has called on the European Union to impose fresh sanctions on Moscow over the death of Alexei Navalny.

Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, said she hoped the bloc could soon reach an agreement on a 13th package of sanctions, which EU officials say could happen on Wednesday if Hungary gives its approval.

“We have seen the brutal force with which the Russian president represses his own citizens who take to the streets to demonstrate for freedom or write about it in newspapers,” she said at a meeting of EU foreign ministers. “We will propose new sanctions in light of the death of Alexei Navalny.”

Hungary is the only EU state yet to approve the proposed restrictions that target nearly 200 more firms and individuals associated with Russia.

The EU’s top diplomat suggested that Russian prison officials linked to Navalny’s death could also be added to the list of those subjected to asset freezes and travel bans.

02:26 PM GMT

Ukraine to receive first F-16 fighter jets ‘in June’

Ukraine may receive its first F-16 fighter jets this June, Foreign Policy magazine reported.

“I think that in June we will see them in Ukraine,” Arvydas Anusauskas, a Lithuanian defence minister, told the magazine. An unnamed European official corroborated the date.

The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Belgium have pledged to supply Ukraine with dozens of US-manufactured F-16 jets, though the exact timeline has remained unclear thus far.

Yurii Ihnat, Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman, could neither confirm nor deny the June timeline when asked.

“I can only confirm that the action plan is indeed being carried out. Our partners are ready to hand over the planes to Ukraine,” Mr Ihnat said.

02:18 PM GMT

Zelensky visits troops on the northeastern front line

Volodymyr Zelenskiy listens to a report of a Ukrainian serviceman as he visits a position in a front line near Kupiansk
Volodymyr Zelenskiy listens to a report of a Ukrainian serviceman as he visits a position in a front line near Kupiansk - REUTERS
Mr Zelensky awards a Ukrainian serviceman during a visit to the front line positions of Ukrainian troops in the Kupyansk
Mr Zelensky awards a Ukrainian serviceman during a visit to the front line positions of Ukrainian troops in the Kupyansk - Getty Images

01:58 PM GMT

Ukraine under ‘heavy fire’ in Zaporizhzhia

Ukrainian troops are facing “heavy fire” from advancing Russian forces in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, Ukrainian army figures said.

It comes after Moscow made its most significant territorial gain in nine months last week by taking the city of Avdiivka.

Senior Ukrainian commander Oleksandr Tarnavsky said that Russia was now launching multiple attacks near the village of Robotyne – one of the few places where Ukraine had managed to regain ground during last year’s counter-offensive.

Russia was trying to advance with “small assault groups with the involvement of several units of armoured vehicles,” he said in a Telegram post.

“These offensive attempts are being halted, the enemy is being eliminated in the outskirts of Robotyne,” Gen. Tarnavsky, who commands Ukraine’s forces in the area, added.

Reports from Russian military bloggers claimed Moscow’s forces are in the southern edges of the village.

“The situation is dynamic here, the enemy is inflicting heavy fire,” Gen. Tarnavsky’s spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy said on state TV.

01:19 PM GMT

Ukraine ‘shoots down two Russian fighter jets’

Ukraine has shot down two Russian fighter jets, Kyiv’s Air Force reported.

“This morning, the air force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed two Russian planes that were attacking the positions of our troops with guided air bombs...Thanks for the work!” Oleksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s army chief, wrote on Telegram.

Citizens of Mariupol heard two explosions in the city at around 9.16am, and one of the burning planes fell near to the village of Rybatske, eight miles south, a local official told Kyiv Post. Footage on social media shows a helicopter circling the alleged crash site off the coast of Rybatske, where a shape can be seen floating in the water.

The destruction of the two bomber jets, reported to be an Su-34 and a Su-35S, in the skies over Eastern Ukraine is the latest in a recent uptick of downed Russian planes.

Three Russian fighter jets, two Su-34s and a Su-35, worth more than $100 million in total were shot down over the weekend, Kyiv’s air force chief claimed. Ukraine also downed a Beriev A-50 military observation plane in January, which reportedly cost $330 million to produce.

Russia has lost over 330 planes since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Ukraine reported. There are signs that the uptick in aircraft losses has caused Russia to change its aerial strategy, reducing the number of sorties flown by Russia’s air force, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in December last year.

01:00 PM GMT

‘US planning to supply Ukraine with first long-range missiles’

Washington is working toward providing Ukraine with powerful new long-range ballistic missiles, two US officials reportedly told NBC.

Late last year, the US began to supply Ukraine with Army Tactical Missile Systems, known as ATACMS, but so far it has provided only the older medium-range ATACMS. Now, the Biden administration is leaning toward sending the longer-range version of the missile, which would allow Ukraine to strike farther inside the Russian-held Crimean Peninsula, NBC reported.

Should Congress approve more funding to Ukraine, the missiles could be included in one of the first packages of military aid.

However, ongoing US support for Ukraine was thrown into limbo last week after the Republican-majority House of Representatives, swayed by Donald Trump, went on recess without approving a new aid package.

12:09 PM GMT

Russian troops fly flag over Avdiivka coke plant

Russia has claimed control of a Soviet-era coke plant in Avdiivka, cementing its control of the city.

Russia’s defence ministry said its troops had advanced about 9 km (5 miles) in the Donetsk-region of the front line after a deadly urban battle for the Avdiivka.

“The ‘Centre’ grouping of troops, taking the offensive, took full control of the coke plant in Avdiivka,” Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement alongside video showing a series of blasts in what appeared to be the plant. “Russian flags were hoisted on the administrative buildings of the plant,” it added

Russian state television showed blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flags being taken down in Avdiivka and Russia’s white, blue and red tricolour flag raised, including over the coke plant.

Vladimir Putin hailed the fall of Avdiivka as an important victory and congratulated Russian troops, while Ukraine said it had withdrawn its soldiers to save its units from being fully surrounded after months of fierce fighting.

The fall of Avdiivka after is Russia’s biggest gain since it captured the city of Bakhmut in May 2023, and comes just ahead of the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

12:02 PM GMT

Update: Russian rescue teams ‘confirm’ downed fighter jet

Russia has admitted losing one of its fighter jets, Ukraine claimed.

Intercepted communications between Russian rescuers confirmed that an Su-35 pilot was drifting “face down” in the Sea of Azov, where footage has emerged online showing helicopters circling a black shape floating in the water, the Ukraine air force reported.

11:48 AM GMT

Russia attacks Ukraine in five directions at once

Moscow has taken advantage of Kyiv’s weapons and personnel shortage to attack in five directions all at once, the New York Times reported.

Following the capture of Marinka in Feburary, Moscow could set its sights on claiming the Ukrainian stronghold of Vuhledar from the north, it reported. Russians troops are currently advancing through the village of Novomykhailivka, which is about 13 miles to the northeast.

Russia appears determined to win back Robotoyne, concentrating more troops on this front than it did on the Avdiivka front, Dmytro Lykhovii, a spokesman for Ukrainian soldiers fighting in the south, said this week.

Russian forces are pushing in two directions from the city of Kreminna to reclaim territory it lost to Ukraine in late 2022. Possible targets include the battered city of Kupiansk to the north, and toward Lyman, 80 miles to the south.

Elsewhere, Russia has regained momentum in the territory around Bakhmut, with Ukraine’s new military chief warning that Moscow is determined to break defenses around Chasiv Yar, which would expose the city of Kramatorsk to increased artillery fire.

“Delays in Western security assistance to Ukraine are likely helping Russia launch opportunistic offensive operations along several sectors of the front line,” the Institute for the Study of War reported.

11:16 AM GMT

‘Navalny was poisoned with novichok and Russia is hiding his body’, says widow

Alexei Navalny was poisoned with novichok and Russia is hiding his body, his widow, Yulia Navalnaya, has claimed.

In a video statement about her husband’s death, Ms Navalnaya accused Russian authorities of hiding his body, saying they were still waiting for traces of novichok - a nerve agent - to disappear from his body.

She has also vowed to name those involved in his death and why he was killed.

“I want to live in a free Russia, I want to build a free Russia. I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny,” she said, adding: “Vladimir Putin killed my husband.”

Her comments come after Mr Navalny’s spokesperson said his mother and lawyer were stopped from seeing his body at a morgue this morning.

The Kremlin has denied involvement in his death.

10:43 AM GMT

EU chief diplomat calls for further Russian sanctions

European Union countries must seek new sanctions against Moscow following the death of Alexei Navalny, the EU’s chief diplomat said.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, Josep Borrell said: “We have to send a message of support to Russian opposition... So on both fronts, the political one and the military one, we have to continue our support to Ukraine and to the Russian people who want to be living in freedom.”

Ms Navalnaya is joining bloc members in Brussels as they discuss possible new Russian sanctions.

10:09 AM GMT

Kremlin slams ‘obnoxious statements’ over death of Navalny

The Kremlin called the West’s reaction to Alexei Navalny’s death “unacceptable”, but said that “obnoxious statements” from the United States and Europe would not harm Vladimir Putin.

“We consider it absolutely unacceptable to make such, well, frankly obnoxious statements,” Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told reporters.

“These statements, of course, cannot cause any damage to our head of our state,” said Mr Peskov, adding that the investigation into Navalny’s death was ongoing and is being conducted in accordance with Russian law.

Asked about the controversy surrounding the release of Navalny’s body to his family, Mr Peskov said: “The procedure for releasing the body to relatives is not a matter for the Kremlin.

09:39 AM GMT

Kyiv commemorates 2014 Revolution of Dignity protestors

Kyiv residents attend a memorial service to commemorate the 78 protesters killed during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014 in Kyiv
Kyiv residents attend a memorial service to commemorate the 78 protesters killed during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014 in Kyiv - Getty Images/Danylo Antoniuk
A young boy lights a candle during an Orthodox mass in Kyiv in memory of protesters killed in 2014 demonstrations
A young boy lights a candle during an Orthodox mass in Kyiv in memory of protesters killed in 2014 demonstrations - Getty Images/Roman PILIPEY

09:21 AM GMT

‘Russian-occupied oil depot catches fire’

An oil depot has caught fire in the Russian-occupied city of Makiivka, local media reported.

Footage of the fire on social media shows a cloud of thick black smoke rising into the air from the depot, located 10 miles east of Donetsk.

Local media reported an explosion at the site caused by a Ukrainian attack, and said that parts of the city have been cut off from electricity.

The Ukrainian army is yet to comment.

08:57 AM GMT

Seize frozen Russian assets before US election, says Estonian PM

Kaja Kallas, Estonia’s prime minister, has called on the west to seize Russia’s frozen assets before the US election, the Financial Times reported.

Ms Kallas’s entreaty comes amid concern over the impact a second Donald Trump presidency might have on the west’s policy towards Russia and support for Ukraine.

“Elections are always turbulent times,” Ms Kallas told the Financial Times on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. “It’s always better to do everything we can before important elections.”

Meanwhile, Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania’s foreign minister, has called on the EU to “sharpen” sanctions against Russia following Alexei Navalny’s death.

“If Ukraine falls, everybody is very clear to understand: we will be next. Putin has no intention to stop, he wouldn’t be able to stop,” Mr Landsbergis said ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, where they will be joined by the widow of Navalny.

08:30 AM GMT

Denmark gives all of its artillery shells to Ukraine

Denmark’s prime minister said on Sunday that her country was handing over all of its shells to Ukraine as she urged other European states to provide more weapons, Harriet Barber writes.

“We decided to donate our entire artillery,” Mette Frederiksen said at the Munich Security Conference, suggesting that other European nations should follow suit.

“I’m sorry to say friends, there is still ammunition in stock in Europe. This is not only a question about production because we have weapons, we have ammunition, we have our defences that we don’t have to use at the moment, that we should deliver to Ukraine,” she said. “We have to do more.”

Ms Frederiksen said Denmark would soon deliver F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine and was still seeking more partners to supply the advanced fighter planes.

Read Harriet’s full story here. 

08:20 AM GMT

Navalny's body ‘hidden from relatives’

Alexei Navalny's family have been denied access to his body
Alexei Navalny's family have been denied access to his body - Getty Images/ALEXEY PAVLOVSKY

Alexei Navalny’s mother has been prevented from seeing his body, his spokeswoman said.

Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said that the deceased Russian dissident’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, was “not allowed to go in” to the morgue where his body was allegedly held and that one of his lawyers was “pushed out” of the building.

“Alexei’s mother and his lawyers arrived at the morgue early in the morning. They were not allowed to go in,” she said. “One of the lawyers was literally pushed out. When the staff was asked if Alexei’s body was there, they did not answer.

“The Investigative Committee informed the mother and the lawyers that the investigation of the death of Navalny has been extended. They don’t say how long it will take. The cause of death is still ‘unknown.’ They lie, buy time for themselves and do not even hide it.”

Ms Yarmysh confirmed that the Russian opposition figure is dead on Saturday, citing an official notice given to Navalny’s mother who travelled to the prison where her son had been held the same day, accompanied by Navalny’s lawyer.

Russian investigators told the pair that his body had been taken to Salekhard, the town near the prison complex in Kharp where he died, but the workers at the morgue later said that his body was not there, Ms Yarmysh reported.

Read our full report here.

08:02 AM GMT

Ukraine downs four drones

Ukraine shot down all four Shahed attack drones launched by Russia overnight, the Air Force said in its morning update.

Russian forces mainly targeted the Kharkiv region with drones launched from Belgorod, it reported.

Ukrainian authorities issued a warning about the threat of drone strikes just after 8pm but reported no damage.

In total, five settlements in Kharkiv came under attack yesterday, damaging apartments buildings and homes.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.