Britain sanctions leaders of Russian penal colony where Alexei Navalny died

Britain became the first country Wednesday to impose sanctions on leaders of the Russian penal colony where Alexei Navalny died. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE
Britain became the first country Wednesday to impose sanctions on leaders of the Russian penal colony where Alexei Navalny died. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE

Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Britain on Wednesday sanctioned the commander and five senior officials of the Arctic Circle penal colony where the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died.

Col. Vadim Konstantinovich Kalinin, head of IK-3 Arctic Penal Colony "Polar Wolf," and the other officers will be banned from Britain and have their assets frozen under the new sanctions, Foreign Secretary David Cameron announced in a news release.


Cameron said Britain had sanctioned the group, the first such action by any country in response to Navalny's death, because they oversaw the "brutal" prison camp where Navalny was held in solitary confinement for as long as two weeks at a time.

Navalny's health had worsened considerably since being imprisoned on his return to Russia in 2021 due to medical treatment being withheld and having to walk in temperatures of -25.6 degrees while detained at the prison.

"It's clear that the Russian authorities saw Navalny as a threat and they tried repeatedly to silence him. FSB operatives poisoned him with Novichok in 2020, they imprisoned him for peaceful political activities, and they sent him to an Arctic penal colony," Cameron said.


He added that "no one should doubt the oppressive nature of the Russian system."

"That's why we're today sanctioning the most senior prison officials responsible for his custody in the penal colony where he spent his final months. Those responsible for Navalny's brutal treatment should be under no illusion -- we will hold them accountable," Cameron said.

The five are sanctioned in their capacity as governors of the penal colony under Britain's Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations for overseeing activities that violated Navalny's right to freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the right to life.

The five individuals in addition to Kalinin, all deputy heads of prison, are named as Lt. Col. Sergey Nikolaevich Korzhov, Lt. Col. Vasily Alexandrovich Vydrin, Lt. Col. Vladimir Ivanovich Pilipchik, Aleksandr Vladimirovich Golyakov and Lt. Col. Aleksandr Valerievich Obraztsov.

The British sanctions came a day after Washington said it was planning a "major sanctions" response to Navalny's death slated to be in place ahead of the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Saturday.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday it was clear to the rest of the world that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government were responsible for Navalny's death "whatever story the Russian government decides to tell the world."


Kirby did not elaborate on the proposed sanctions but said they would be designed to "hold Mr. Putin accountable for now two years of war in Ukraine, but also specifically supplemented with additional sanctions regarding Mr. Navalny's death."

On Monday, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell pledged to hit Moscow with new sanctions over Navalny's death and that he would push for the bloc's global human rights regime to be renamed after the late opposition figure.

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