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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Norway called in Russia’s ambassador

The Norwegian government summoned Russia’s longtime ambassador to Norway to its foreign ministry in Oslo on Tuesday. Norwegian officials wanted what they called “a conversation” after “the tragic death” of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny late last week.

Norway’s foreign ministry in Oslo was the scene of a chilly exchange on Tuesday between Norwegian officials and Russia’s ambassador to Norway. PHOTO: UD/Mathias Rongved

The ministry said Russian Ambassador Teymuraz Ramishvili, who’s been stationed in Norway since 2016, was called in to hear Norway’s position on Navalny’s death while being held at a Russian prison camp in Siberia. Norway holds Russian authorities fully responsible for it, as expressed earlier by Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

Eide himself has been traveling extensively during the past few weeks, to the US and China, the Middle East, the Munich Security Conference and this week to Brazil for the G20 meeting. The Russian ambassador therefore met with the ministry’s head of security police and Arctic areas.

Norway also expressed deep concern for other political prisoners in Russia and called for their immediate and unconditional release. Navalny, who was poisoned in 2020 and later arrested after repeatedly challenging Russia’s authoritarian leader Vladimir Putin, had spent 308 days in isolation under harsh conditions before he died under circumstances that remain unclear.

He had also remained a threat to Putin until his death, urging Russians earlier this month to demonstrate against the upcoming presidential election. It’s been arranged in a manner that all but ensures a victory for Putin. Navalny’s plan called for Russians who prefer a fair election to all show up at the polls at noon on Election Day (March 17) to create chaos and then vote for whatever approved opponents were on their ballots.

Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten editorialized that even if Putin didn’t personally order Navalny’s poisoning or death, Norwegian officials and many others around the world hold him responsible. That’s also the message that was conveyed to Putin’s envoy in Oslo. As Foreign Minister Eide said on Friday, just after Navalny’s death was reported, he “was a political prisoner who died in a Russian prison.” It’s therefore Russian authorities “who bear the full responsibility for his tragic death.”

Norway also called on Russian authorities to provide for “an open and independent investigation” of Navalny’s death, after the EU also called for an international investigation. That was quickly rejected in Moscow. Berglund



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