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After unexplained Navalny death, U.N. human-rights chief calls on Russia to end repression

Volker Türk says Russian authorities ‘have further intensified their repression of dissenting voices’ ahead of March 15-17 elections GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. human-rights chief called Monday for a quick end to the “repression of independent voices” in Russia and expressed concerns about the “persecution” of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died in prison last month.

Volker Türk, in a wide-ranging speech, also lamented dozens of conflicts around the world, widespread violations of human-rights law that have impacted millions, and displacements caused by war, which could escalate in places like the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and Sudan.

“Rarely has humanity faced so many rapidly spiraling crises,” he told the Human Rights Council.

Alluding to some countries among the dozens holding national elections this year, Türk denounced “increasing restrictions” on rights defenders, journalists and “perceived critics” in India. He urged U.S. authorities to ensure that voting is universal, alluding to discriminatory policies that restricted the right of Black Americans to vote.

In the run-up to Russia’s presidential elections from March 15-17, Türk said Russian authorities “have further intensified their repression of dissenting voices” and noted how some candidates “have been prevented from running due to alleged administrative irregularities.”

He said Navalny’s death in a Russian prison last month “adds to my serious concerns about his persecution” and noted how thousands of politicians, journalists, human-rights defenders, lawyers and others have faced criminal or administrative charges for having “simply spoken their minds on social media.”

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Türk called for a swift and comprehensive review of all cases where people in Russia were detained for exercising fundamental freedoms, and “an immediate end to the repression of independent voices and the legal professionals who represent them.”