Russian court orders arrest of Yulia Navalnaya in absentia

A court in Moscow has ordered Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of late Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny, to be arrested in absentia, her spokesperson said Tuesday.

The Basmanny District Court in Moscow accused Navalnaya, who now lives outside Russia, of “participation in an extremist organization,” her spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said in a post on social media. She has also been added to an international wanted list, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

In addition, the court granted a request by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation to detain Navalnaya. The period of detention would be calculated from the moment of possible extradition to Russian territory or from her detention on Russian territory, according to a press release. Navalnaya does not live in Russia.

Alexey Navalny died on February 16 in the penal colony in Siberia where he was serving a 19-year sentence after being found guilty of creating an extremist community, financing extremist activists and various other crimes in August.

He was already serving sentences of 11-and-a-half years in a maximum security facility on fraud and other charges he had always denied and claimed were politically motivated.

Navalny was Russia’s highest-profile opposition leader and spent years criticizing Putin, who has been in power for nearly a quarter of a century, at great personal risk. His death came weeks before the country’s presidential elections scheduled to begin nationwide on March 15, which is widely seen by the international community as little more than a formality that will secure Putin a fifth term in power.

‘Putin is a murderer’

Navalny’s death was met with grief and anger across the world as well as inside Russia, where the smallest acts of political dissent carry huge risks.

He returned to Russia in 2021 from Germany, where he had been treated after being poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. On arrival Navalny was swiftly arrested – on charges he dismissed as politically motivated – and spent the rest of his life in prison.

His wife, Yulia Navalnaya, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin in February of being responsible for his death and indicated she would pick up her husband’s mantle, for a “happy, beautiful Russia.”

Yulia Navalnaya (right), at least in public, has often laughed off the hardships that her husband (left) has brought on the family through his battle with the Russian state. - navalny/Instagram
Yulia Navalnaya (right), at least in public, has often laughed off the hardships that her husband (left) has brought on the family through his battle with the Russian state. - navalny/Instagram

Navalnaya posted an eight-minute video on her dead husband’s social media outlets, saying Putin “killed the father of my children, Putin took away the most precious thing that was my closest and most beloved person.”

She said Russian authorities were “hiding” Navalny’s body in an attempt to disguise the cause of his death – “lying pathetically” and waiting for “traces of another of Putin’s Novichoks to disappear.”

The Kremlin rejected any allegations of involvement in Navalny’s death.

Reacting to the court’s decision on Tuesday, Navalnaya reiterated claims of Putin’s involvement in the death of her husband.

“His place is in prison, and not somewhere in The Hague, in a cozy cell with a TV, but in Russia – in the same colony and the same 2 by 3 meter cell in which he killed Alexey,” she said in a social media post.

“Oh, won’t there be the usual procedure? A foreign agent, then the opening of a criminal case, then an arrest?! When you write about this, please do not forget to write the main thing: Vladimir Putin is a murderer and a war criminal.”

CNN’s Anna Chernova, Nathan Hodge, Sahar Akbarzai and Jack Guy contributed to this story.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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