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Alexei Navalny accuses ‘corrupt officials’ in London of helping Putin in unearthed interview

Alexei Navalny attacked “corrupt officials” living in London in a never-seen-before interview.

Navalny died earlier this month in a maximum-security Arctic penal colony while serving a 19-year sentence on charges widely thought to be politically motivated.

Russia’s best-known campaigner against high-level corruption, the 47-year-old was a leading critic and opponent of Putin and his regime despite repeated arrests.

An interview with Navalny conducted in 2020 was released on Monday in which he condemned Putin’s regime while sharing his hopes the country could be cleaned of corrupt money laundering in a decade’s time.

In the conversation, which shows the activist looking healthy, he said: “The entire Putin elite is absolutely corrupt and it is absolutely colonially minded. They have moved all their families, their children, their assets to the West and they treat our country as a free hunting zone and that’s exactly how it works.

“Those who try to resist, let’s say they face the consequences quite quickly. Russia is a European country, all the people who live here want to live like Europe so I hope from 10 years from now if you interview me again I’ll be able to tell you how we got to overcome the corrupt money laundering.”

A flower and a picture are left as a tribute to Russian politician Alexei Navalny, near to the Russian Embassy in London (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
A flower and a picture are left as a tribute to Russian politician Alexei Navalny, near to the Russian Embassy in London (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Directing his frustration at Western countries, he said: “The West does nothing at all, I would say. There are some ritual dances but nothing really happens. Why do corrupt officials still live in London? Because these corrupt officials feed a huge number of wonderful London lawyers.

“These people, they will appear very civilised, we will be pleased to chat with them if they sit next to us. They will be wearing a tie and fine manners and at the same time they are serving the interest of utter, compete bandits.”

In response, a spokesperson for the Law Society of England and Wales said sanctions now restricted firms working with Russian clients. They added: “Law firms have chosen to end historic client relationships and have chosen not to represent new Russian clients even where no or limited sanctions apply.

“All firms continue to invest significant resources to ensure they and their clients comply with sanctions and anti-money-laundering measures that are in place.”

The interview was shot as part of an unaired documentary series in February 2020 - just months before Navalny was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent while on plane after meeting activists in Siberia.

After spending five months recovering in Germany, Navalny was arrested upon his return to Russia.

US President Joe Biden meets with Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Kremlin opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and daughter Dasha Navalnaya (AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden meets with Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Kremlin opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and daughter Dasha Navalnaya (AFP via Getty Images)

Western leaders lined up to accuse the Kremlin of involvement in Navalny’s death last week. On Friday, the US and the European Union brought new sanctions on Russia on the eve of the second anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine.

After meeting the wife and daughter of Navalny, US President Joe Biden announced more than 500 new sanctions on Russia.

Navalny’s body was handed over to his 69-year-old mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, with details of his funeral yet to come. Ms Navalnaya claims she was made to sign a death certificate saying her son died of natural causes.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have been detained across Russia as authorities seek to suppress a major outpouring of sympathy for the critic of Putin.