The United Kingdom has imposed sanctions on senior prison officials associated with the Arctic penal colony where Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death occurred after he was detained. The sanctions, announced by Foreign Secretary David Cameron, include a travel ban to the UK and the freezing of assets for six individuals, notably Vadim Konstantinovich Kalinin, the head of the penal colony.

The decision to enforce sanctions comes in response to the widely blamed death of Alexei Navalny, which has raised concerns about the treatment he received while in custody. The UK Foreign Office stated that the sanctions are specifically targeting the individuals for “activity that violates the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the right to life.”

Cameron accused the Russian authorities of considering Navalny a threat and attempting to silence him through various means. He highlighted Navalny’s poisoning with novichok in 2020, his imprisonment for peaceful political activities, and subsequent transfer to an Arctic penal colony. The sanctions are aimed at holding the most senior prison officials responsible for Navalny’s brutal treatment accountable.

Rishi Sunak, appearing in the House of Commons during prime minister’s questions, confirmed the sanctions against the Russian officials. He acknowledged Navalny’s dedication to the cause of freedom and emphasised that Navalny died for that cause. Sunak praised Navalny’s courage, particularly noting his return to Russia despite the previous attempt on his life allegedly orchestrated by Vladimir Putin.

Sunak underscored the significance of Navalny’s actions and the challenges he faced in standing up against the Russian government. He mentioned that, along with allies, the UK is exploring all available options to hold Russia and Vladimir Putin accountable for the treatment Navalny received.

The sanctions extend to those in charge of the prison where Alexei Navalny’s body remains. The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, remarked that Navalny sacrificed his life to expose the corruption within the Putin regime. Starmer characterised Putin as someone who not only stole the wealth but also the future and democracy of the Russian people.