Statement on the Death of Alexei Navalny and the Dire Human Rights Situation in Russia

As delivered by Ambassador Anne-Kirsti Karlsen at the 1463rd Permanent Council, Vienna, 29 February 2024

Madame Chair, 

Norway joined the statement just delivered by our Lithuanian colleague, but I would like to add the following in my national capacity.

Norway wishes to reiterate our profound grief and outrage over the tragic death of Alexei Navalny in an Arctic penal colony almost two weeks ago. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.

Norway has repeatedly condemned the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, the political motivated rulings against him and called for his unconditional release. The Russian authorities bear the full responsibility for his death and must facilitate an independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances of his death.

Alexei Navalny will be remembered as a courageous, fearless, and relentless fighter against abuse of power and corruption and as a visionary opposition politician. Through his Anti-Corruption Foundation, he built up an impressive network and gave voice to the many who have suffered the injustice of the Russian regime. In the end, he suffered the greatest injustice himself. 

Unfortunately, the death of Alexei Navalny says a lot about the kind of Russia Vladimir Putin has built.

The oppression in society is becoming even more systematic, widespread and brutal. The fact that several hundred have been detained merely for honoring Mr. Navalny’s memory is a glaring example of this.

Russia has a high and increasing number of political prisoners, including in the occupied Crimean Peninsula. We remain deeply concerned about the protection of basic human rights and well-being of political prisoners like Vladimir Kara-Murza, Yuri Dmitriev, Ilya Yashin, Alexandra Skochilenko and many others.

This week, we witnessed yet another grim example of how civil society in Russia is being persecuted when renowned Human Rights Defender and a co-chair of Memorial Oleg Orlov was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for simply exercising his right to freedom of expression.

We strongly call on Russia to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners.

With Alexei Navalny’s death, Russia has lost another important voice who had the courage and credibility to speak up against the Kremlin in the fight for a more democratic and different Russia.

This week on 27 February, we also commemorated opposition politician Boris Nemtsov nine years after his brutal murder.

We have long promoted democracy, human rights and civil society throughout the OSCE region. We remain committed to support those who carry this work forward.

With Alexei Navalny's death, Russia has been bereft of an important voice. We will continue to support those who, despite great sacrifice and danger to their lives, continue to believe in a different Russia. This illustrates how brave one must be to express oneself freely in todays’ Russia.

I thank you.