The Telegraph 2024-02-19 16:30:23


Alexei Navalny was poisoned by Putin, his widow claims

Alexei Navalny’s widow has promised to reveal how Vladimir Putin killed her husband as she pledged to take over her husband’s work.

Yulia Navalnaya accused the Russian authorities of blocking the family from seeing his body in order to conceal the way he was killed.

“They’re now hiding his body, refusing to show it to his mother, refusing to hand it over. They’re lying, waiting for the traces of yet another Novichok [poisoning] of Putin’s to go away,” she added.

In a video posted on Twitter, Ms Navalnaya said she was taking over the cause of bringing democratic change in Russia to honour her husband’s memory.

“I’m going to keep up with Alexei Navalny’s struggle,” a visibly distressed Ms Navalnaya said, adding that she knows why her husband was killed.

“We know what exactly Putin killed Alexei for three days ago. We’re going to tell you soon,” she said.

“I’m going to keep struggling for our country and I’m asking you to stand by me and share not only the endless grief and pain that gripped us and won’t let go. I’m asking you to share the outrage, the anger and hatred for those who dared to kill off our future.”

Ms Navalnaya, who previously kept a low profile, publicly blamed Vladimir Putin for her husband’s death.

She portrayed her foray into politics as an homage to her husband, saying:  “I want to build this (new) Russia with you: That’s the only way this unimaginable sacrifice that he made will not be futile.

“I’m not scared so shouldn’t you.”


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EU foreign ministers were meeting Navalny’s widow on Monday to send a “message of support” to Kremlin opponents, the bloc’s top diplomat said.

“We have to send a message of support to the Russian opposition,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, told journalists.

Mr Borrell said he expected EU member states to propose fresh sanctions on those directly responsible for Navalny’s treatment, including in Russia’s prison system.

“The great responsible is Putin himself,” Mr Borrell said.

He said that Brussels would look to rename its global human rights sanctions blacklist after Navalny in a symbolic move.

Postmortem period extended

Three days after Navalny, Russia’s most popular opposition politician, died at a remote prison in the Arctic Circle, officials are still stonewalling the family’s questions about the cause of his death.

Navalny’s mother and lawyer on Monday morning arrived at a mortuary in the regional capital Salekhard but were not allowed in, his spokesman said. The mortuary would not confirm if they were indeed keeping the body.

Navalny’s postmortem examination period has been extended, Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokesman said, citing a request from the local Investigative Committee, Russia’s top investigative body.

“The cause of death is still ‘not established’,” she said in a statement.

A Kremlin spokesman on Monday refused to comment on the delay.

A close Navalny ally suggested on Monday a clear pattern of evidence tampering that his team witnessed at a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk in 2020 following Navalny’s near-lethal poisoning.

“We have seen it all before in Omsk,” Ivan Zhdanov, head of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said.

“They’re lying to us. It’s clear what they’re doing right now: They’re mopping up the traces of their crime.”

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told reporters in Moscow the Kremlin was “not involved” in the proceedings and he was not in a position to comment.

He went on to say the West’s reaction to Navalny’s death was unacceptable but the statements from the US and Europe would not harm the Russian president.

“We consider it absolutely unacceptable to make such, well, frankly obnoxious statements,” Mr Peskov told reporters.

“These statements, of course, cannot cause any damage to our head of our state,” Mr Peskov said.

The investigation into Navalny’s death is ongoing and is being conducted in accordance with Russian law, he said.

Asked how Putin reacted to news of the death, Mr Peskov said: “I have nothing to add.”

Russian prison officials announced Navalny’s death on Friday afternoon but did not name the cause or any circumstances.

The most prominent opponent of Putin, the 47-year-old politician was jailed in January 2021 after he returned to Russia from Germany where he was convalescing from a near-lethal poisoning in Siberia.

Navalny was last seen speaking to the court via video link the day before his death. He looked cheerful and did not display any signs of illness.

The secrecy surrounding the opposition leader’s sudden death has fed speculations of foul play.

Navalny’s mother, who arrived in the Arctic Yamal region on Saturday, has been offered contradictory statements about when he died and where his body had been taken to.

Well-respected Russian media outlet Media Zona on Sunday studied a trove of publicly available CCTV footage on the road leading from Navalny’s prison colony to Salekhard which showed an unusual motorcade including a minivan they presume carried Navalny’s body to the regional capital about 10 hours after the reported time of his death.

Navalny’s mother had been told by the Salekhard mortuary they had not received his body.

The death of the charismatic opposition leader, who has been the focal point of opposition to Putin for over a decade, sent shockwaves across Russian civil society that has been brutally repressed by the Putin regime since the early days of his invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

With all forms of protest in Russia essentially outlawed, mourners have been bringing flowers and candles to monuments across Russia in Mr Navalny’s. At least 400 people have been detailed at those vigils since Friday. Some were sentenced to 15 days in jail for merely lingering and standing at the monuments for too long.

Navalny supporters have been rallying in every single major city that hosts a sizable Russian community, from Berlin to Buenos Aires.

Speeding Audi destroys six cars in fatal crash

A man has died after a speeding motorist smashed into six cars on a busy high street.

Footage showed a white Audi speeding in the Handsworth area of Birmingham, on Sunday night before crashing into the back of a slow-moving vehicle and causing a pile-up.

A spokesman for the West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed that the driver of the speeding car had survived, while two others involved in the pile-up were injured and taken to hospital. A passenger in a stationary vehicle, who was in his 30s, suffered serious injuries and died.

A man has been arrested in connection with the crash, which took place at about 8.20pm, West Midlands Police said.

The 25-year-old was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and was taken to hospital for treatment, after which he will be questioned, the force said.

A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said it was called to Handsworth at 8.22pm and sent three ambulances, three paramedic officers, a trauma doctor, a critical care paramedic and a critical care car from the Air Ambulance Service.

The spokesman said a male passenger “had sustained life-threatening injuries and received advanced life support and advanced trauma care” from ambulance staff at the scene, adding: “Unfortunately, nothing more could be done to save him and he was confirmed deceased at the scene.

“A woman from one of the cars was assessed and had sustained potentially serious injuries. She received treatment at the scene before being conveyed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for further treatment.”

A man who was driving of one of the cars sustained injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening and taken to Sandwell District Hospital for further assessment.  The road was closed overnight, but reopened at around 6.30am on Monday. 

West Midlands Police say they have CCTV and dashcam footage of the crash but are still appealing for information from anyone that could assist the investigation.

Labour vows to ‘eliminate’ fox hunting

Labour has vowed to eliminate fox hunting within its first five years in power, saying there is not a majority in “any part of the country” that wants to see it continue.

Steve Reed, the shadow environment secretary, said the party would close “loopholes” in the existing ban that allow some types of hunting to go on, claiming it would prevent hounds killing pets and livestock.

Labour has already vowed to toughen the Hunting Act, including banning trail hunting – where dogs follow a pre-laid scent rather than a wild animal.

It has been urged to abandon the plans by country campaigners, who warned the party to end its “running attack on rural communities”.

Bur Mr Reed said the policy was not about “telling country people how to live their lives” – insisting it was something rural voters wanted to see.

Labour may feel bolstered to make more controversial announcements by its commanding lead in the polls, where it sits around 20 points ahead of the Tories.

Introduced by Sir Tony Blair’s administration, the 2004 Act was seen by many as an act of class warfare rather than an attempt to improve animal welfare.

The Tories previously pledged to give MPs a chance to repeal it with a free vote, but this was dropped in Boris Johnson’s 2019 manifesto.

The current law makes it an offence to hunt wild animals with dogs. But it is still legal to lay trails using artificial scents, which critics claim serves as a smokescreen for the real thing.

Countryside ‘will not be bullied’

Mr Reed said: “People have seen the images of packs of hounds getting into private back gardens, killing cats, ripping flocks apart. There’s not a majority in any part of the country that wants to see that continue.

“The hunting ban was passed under the last Labour government and it has been maintained under this Conservative government. So that seems fairly settled to me.

“But there are loopholes in it, drag hunting, for instance, that allow hunting to continue, and foxes – and indeed domestic cats and other mammals – are still getting killed as a result of those loopholes and we will close those loopholes.”

Last year, the Countryside Alliance urged Labour not to bring forward new legislation to toughen up the ban, demanding an end to its “running attack on rural communities”.

Tim Bonner, the chief executive, said his organisation would oppose any new restrictions. He said: “It is utterly bizarre that Labour is still making hunting its priority in the countryside. Rural people are desperately concerned about affordable housing, access to services, agricultural transition and a thousand other more important issues. 

“Yet Labour wants to return to fight the culture war of 20 years ago. This shows that the party hasn’t progressed at all and that underneath Keir Starmer’s veneer it is still about the politics of misplaced envy and class war.

“Ultimately the countryside doesn’t want to have to have a fight over hunting again.

“But it will not sit back and allow itself to be bullied and become victim to a toxic culture war.”

But Mr Reed insisted: “This isn’t to do with urban people telling country people how to live their lives. This is something country people want brought in.”

Father tried to rescue two-year-old who fell in Leicester river, say police

A father jumped into a river to rescue his two-year-old boy who has been missing for nearly a day, police have said.

The child from a local family fell into the River Soar in Leicester just after 5pm on Sunday off a tow path in Aylestone Meadows, close to Marsden Lane.

A major search is under way involving specialist divers, helicopters and four police forces.

In an update on the rescue efforts, Leicestershire Police revealed that a family member who was thought to be the boy’s father jumped into the river in vain to retrieve him.

Michaela Kerr, the force’s Assistant Chief Constable, said: “The child was with family members at the time that he went into the water and we do know that one person went into the River Soar in an attempt to try and get the child, but sadly at this moment we still haven’t been able to find the child.”

The family member was taken to hospital as a precaution, but has since been discharged.

Overnight, the search for the boy continued using thermal imaging cameras and night goggles and extra officers were drafted in on Monday from the Met Police, Nottinghamshire Police and Lincolnshire Police.

Asst Chief Constable Kerr told reporters: “I’m confident that we will find him, we’re doing everything we possibly can and for the family our commitment is absolutely to make sure that we get that little boy home.”

She said she was “very reassured and very confident” that the parameters of the search are correct, but that it was incredibly difficult because of high rainfall increasing water levels.

Asst Chief Constable Kerr thanked members of the public for their support, but warned that “it’s so important to us that we don’t have any members of the public attempting any search” because the area is dangerous.

The case has caused shock in the local community. A resident whose home overlooks Aylestone Meadows said flooding from the River Soar in recent weeks had left parts of the nature reserve in a treacherous state.

The woman, who walks regularly in the area, said a nearby canal and the river sometimes “go into one” during peak flooding periods and the current conditions had been “fast flowing … it’s been quite bad”.

Anyone with information is asked to contact 999 with information quoting incident 476:180224.

Speeding Audi destroys six cars in fatal crash

A man has died after a speeding motorist smashed into six cars on a busy high street.

Footage showed a white Audi speeding in the Handsworth area of Birmingham, on Sunday night before crashing into the back of a slow-moving vehicle and causing a pile-up.

A spokesman for the West Midlands Ambulance Service confirmed that the driver of the speeding car had survived, while two others involved in the pile-up were injured and taken to hospital. A passenger in a stationary vehicle, who was in his 30s, suffered serious injuries and died.

A man has been arrested in connection with the crash, which took place at about 8.20pm, West Midlands Police said.

The 25-year-old was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and was taken to hospital for treatment, after which he will be questioned, the force said.

A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said it was called to Handsworth at 8.22pm and sent three ambulances, three paramedic officers, a trauma doctor, a critical care paramedic and a critical care car from the Air Ambulance Service.

The spokesman said a male passenger “had sustained life-threatening injuries and received advanced life support and advanced trauma care” from ambulance staff at the scene, adding: “Unfortunately, nothing more could be done to save him and he was confirmed deceased at the scene.

“A woman from one of the cars was assessed and had sustained potentially serious injuries. She received treatment at the scene before being conveyed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for further treatment.”

A man who was driving of one of the cars sustained injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening and taken to Sandwell District Hospital for further assessment.  The road was closed overnight, but reopened at around 6.30am on Monday. 

West Midlands Police say they have CCTV and dashcam footage of the crash but are still appealing for information from anyone that could assist the investigation.

Father tried to rescue two-year-old who fell in Leicester river, say police

A father jumped into a river to rescue his two-year-old boy who has been missing for nearly a day, police have said.

The child from a local family fell into the River Soar in Leicester just after 5pm on Sunday off a tow path in Aylestone Meadows, close to Marsden Lane.

A major search is under way involving specialist divers, helicopters and four police forces.

In an update on the rescue efforts, Leicestershire Police revealed that a family member who was thought to be the boy’s father jumped into the river in vain to retrieve him.

Michaela Kerr, the force’s Assistant Chief Constable, said: “The child was with family members at the time that he went into the water and we do know that one person went into the River Soar in an attempt to try and get the child, but sadly at this moment we still haven’t been able to find the child.”

The family member was taken to hospital as a precaution, but has since been discharged.

Overnight, the search for the boy continued using thermal imaging cameras and night goggles and extra officers were drafted in on Monday from the Met Police, Nottinghamshire Police and Lincolnshire Police.

Asst Chief Constable Kerr told reporters: “I’m confident that we will find him, we’re doing everything we possibly can and for the family our commitment is absolutely to make sure that we get that little boy home.”

She said she was “very reassured and very confident” that the parameters of the search are correct, but that it was incredibly difficult because of high rainfall increasing water levels.

Asst Chief Constable Kerr thanked members of the public for their support, but warned that “it’s so important to us that we don’t have any members of the public attempting any search” because the area is dangerous.

The case has caused shock in the local community. A resident whose home overlooks Aylestone Meadows said flooding from the River Soar in recent weeks had left parts of the nature reserve in a treacherous state.

The woman, who walks regularly in the area, said a nearby canal and the river sometimes “go into one” during peak flooding periods and the current conditions had been “fast flowing … it’s been quite bad”.

Anyone with information is asked to contact 999 with information quoting incident 476:180224.

Prince William goes safe-but-suave in a velvet tuxedo at the Baftas

You have to hand it to the current crop of male celebrities doing the award season rounds; they’re game for anything in the increasingly competitive style stakes, from he-vages to skirts and every silly detail in between. 

Even if – whisper it – sometimes these average guys – sorry but we’re looking at you Barry Keoghan – don’t look entirely comfortable in the hifalutin get-up that some stylist has promised will put them on a best dressed list trajectory (and possibly land them a lucrative deal with a fashion house). Which is precisely why Prince William chooses to sidestep this malarky and get on with the job in hand, in a style choice that reflects his position rather than posturing in some outre #lewk. 

The Prince of Wales arrived at this year’s BAFTAs in a handsome royal blue tuxedo that he’s worn before; to a Royal Variety performance in 2021 and to the Top Gun premiere in 2022

The Prince is fond of velvet dinner jackets; he’s previously worn iterations in bottle green and black, and although it’s relatively ‘safe’ in fashion terms, it’s sleek and sharp, and velvet’s an easy way to add lustre and touch of glamour for a formal event without going to extraneous lengths; leave the jacquard and embroidery to host David Tennant. Savile Row would never be so indiscreet as to advertise their relationships, but it’s likely that the tuxedo’s courtesy of his father’s favourite tailor Anderson & Sheppard, which specialises in sumptuous eveningwear. And like his father, he’s clearly fond of recycling his clothes. 

It’s nothing to frighten the horses, and that’s precisely the point for a royal of his singular position, especially right now; it’s appropriate and dressy but easy to wear. It’s also a wardrobe modus operandi that Prince William is clearly comfortable in, and that’s significant – he’s previously attended the BAFTA awards with the Princess of Wales, who’s currently taking a break from royal duties while she recovers from a recent spell in hospital. So it stands to reason that he’d opt for a classic mainstay that’s relatively safe. 

It’s an approach taken by Richard E Grant – in a blue velvet jacket by Armani – and David Beckham too, shaking hands with Prince William at the event in a sleek black tuxedo from Ralph Lauren. At the ripe age of 48, Beckham tends to forgo the fashion theatrics of his youth and stick to classic staples. The BAFTAs in general – being British and one for the thesps – tends to tow a familiar line in terms of how the male A-listers dress; leave the style chicanery to the Oscars, or the frankly mind-boggling antics on the Met red carpet. 

But that’s not to say that a touch of that kind of experimentation we’ve seen across the red carpets in recent years wasn’t evident; Andrew Scott in a tomato red ensemble, Barry Keoghan in a curiously military-esque green jacket with epaulettes and braiding with matching trousers and stonking great boots courtesy of Burberry, and Rami Malik in a rather operatic black coat atop his black tie ensemble, which lent a suitably Bond villain-esque mood. 

Cillian Murphy hit a singular note in his sleek black arrangement; a minimalist top, oversized, draping coat and soft-fit trousers. Dark, rather left-of-centre and just enough fashion nous to be cool without being overly obvious; very him, essentially. Bradley Cooper opted for a double-breasted coat and flared trousers by Louis Vuitton, an understatedly daring look which was a repeat of the outfit he wore to the fashion house’s show in January. 

Prince William represented tradition in his blue velvet. Against a backdrop of men pushing the boundaries in every respect in how they dress – a notion we fully applaud – sometimes sticking to the classics is no bad thing.