MAriana Katzarova, the special rapporteur for Russia who leads this group, denounced in a statement that since the death of the Russian dissident six days ago, Russian authorities have “violently and arbitrarily” detained hundreds of peaceful citizens for laying flowers in honor of Navalny in more than 39 cities in Russia.

“I can’t help but ask: Who will be next?”, highlighted the rapporteur, with 25 years of experience in terms of human rights.

Katzarova called on the Russian government to “immediately and unconditionally” release all political prisoners in the country.

Alexei Navalny, one of Vladimir Putin’s main opponents, died on February 16, aged 47, in an Arctic prison, where he was serving a 19-year sentence.

Russia’s prison services indicated that Navalny felt unwell after a walk and lost consciousness.

Prominent Western leaders, the opponent’s family and supporters hold Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for his death.

According to the rapporteur, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which marks two years on Saturday, simultaneously triggered “a war against the Russians at home”, with the intensification of repression of civil society.

“There is no longer a safe space for civic action or political opposition within Russia,” he stressed.

Katzarova assured that this worsening of the situation was fueled by several laws approved following the start of the large-scale conflict, and that among several measures they prohibit “fake news” about the war or “discrediting the Armed Forces”, considering them “infamous ” and “lack of basis in international law”.

He also denounced the expansion of the government’s list of alleged “foreign agents”, “undesirable organizations” or “extremists”, which led to the initiation of administrative and criminal proceedings, and arbitrary detentions of Russians who oppose the war against Ukraine.

The Bulgarian official also assured that she had received information about forced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of Ukrainian civilians in the custody of the Russian authorities and called for investigations to begin.

“The invasion of Ukraine highlighted the stark relationship between aggression abroad and repression within,” he said.

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