Navalny’s death: Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry summons Russian ambassador, but deputy head of mission attends meeting

The Russian ambassador to Bulgaria, Eleonora Mitrofanova, was summoned to a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the Foreign Ministry said on February 23.

Instead of Mitrofanova, Russian embassy chargé d’affaires Valentin Solodkin appeared at the meeting, and received a démarche expressing Bulgaria’s indignation at the death of Navalny on February 16 2024 in the penal colony in Siberia, where he was unjustly sent, the ministry’s statement said.

Bulgaria appealed to the authorities in Moscow to immediately conduct a transparent, thorough and objective investigation, including the involvement of an independent international commission, and to clarify all the circumstances related to the death of Navalny, the ministry said.

The ministry said that Bulgaria expected that those guilty for the death would face criminal charges as soon as possible.

An appeal was made for Navalny’s body to be immediately handed over to the family, which would be free to organise a funeral ceremony.

Bulgaria urged the immediate and unconditional release of all other political prisoners, including Yuriy Dmitriev, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Ilya Yashin, Alexey Gorinov, Lilia Chanisheva, Ksenia Fadeeva, Alexandra Skochilenko and Ivan Safronov, as well as human rights activists, journalists and anti-war activists arbitrarily detained for peacefully exercising their human rights and opposing Russian-led aggression against Ukraine.

Concern was expressed about the conditions of their detention and the Russian authorities were reminded that the prohibition of torture is absolute under international law, the Foreign Ministry said.

Bulgaria expressed deep concern was expressed by the unabated systematic repression against Russian civil society, democratic forces, political opposition and critical voices in the Russian Federation and beyond, and Bulgaria’s unwavering sympathy with them was stated, the ministry said.

In Facebook post, the Russian embassy said that at the meeting, the Bulgarian side “shared some tendentious assessments of the political situation in Russia in the form of already familiar Western clichés”.

“We emphasized that the situation surrounding Alexei Navalny is an extremely internal matter for Russia, and any attempts to put pressure on the country’s authorities are nothing more than interference in internal affairs,” the embassy said.

(Photo: Bulgarian Foreign Ministry)

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