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Western Leaders Decry Death of Putin Critic Alexey Navalny

Western Leaders Decry Death of Putin Critic Alexey Navalny
Alexey Navalny in 2019.

US and European leaders decried the death of Russian activist Alexey Navalny, with many placing responsibility squarely on the Kremlin for the passing of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent domestic political opponent.

Navalny lost consciousness after feeling unwell on returning from a walk and medical services were unable to revive him, the prison authority said in a statement Friday. Authorities were attempting to establish the cause of death, according to the statement.

Navalny, 47, was declared dead as official campaigning for the March 17 presidential election, in which Putin is likely to secure a fifth term, was set to start.

Putin has been “informed” about Navalny’s death, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.

Navalny’s lawyer was on his way to Kharp, the site of the Arctic prison colony, but hadn’t received confirmation of his death yet, the opposition leader’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said on the X social media platform.

Alexey Navalny, Corruption Fighter Who Defied Putin, Dies at 47

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the news as “very depressing” and offered his condolences to Navalny’s family.

Speaking in Berlin alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Scholz said Navalny’s fate “shows what kind of regime is in charge in Russia,” where anyone who expresses an opinion or criticizes the government “must fear for his or her life.”

Zelenskiy directly accused his Russian counterpart. “It is obvious Navalny was killed by Putin,” he said. “Putin doesn’t care who will die for him to keep his post.”

European Council President Charles Michel said the bloc holds “the Russian regime” solely responsible for the activist’s death.

“For more than a decade, the Russian government and Putin personally persecuted, poisoned and imprisoned Alexey Navalny,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Munich, indicating Washington was still seeking confirmation of the news. “His death in a Russian prison and the fixation and fear of one man only underscores the weakness and rot at the heart of the system that Putin has built. Russia is responsible for this.”

Blinken met with the opposition leader’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, at the Munich Security Conference, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Bloomberg

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The wife of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny condemned his death in a maximum-security prison camp Friday, saying President Vladimir Putin and his regime “must bear personal responsibility” (Translations via AP) trib.al/KhGvy1l

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“I do not know whether or not to believe this terrible news,” Navalnaya said at the conference, adding that Putin’s government frequently lied. “This regime and Vladimir Putin must bear personal responsibility for all those horrible things which they do to our country, to my country.”

While the European Union has already sanctioned many people connected to the Kremlin, the bloc will discuss whether others need to be added after Navalny’s death, a senior official said.

Putin had always refused to call Navalny by his name in an effort to belittle the man he dismissed as a “blogger,” but who’d gathered widespread support for his attempts to expose corruption and seek public office.

Navalny was barred from running in the 2018 presidential election. Months before Putin ordered the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Navalny’s nationwide network of opposition political activists was declared “extremist” and ordered to disband.

In August 2020, Navalny barely survived a nerve-agent attack that he and Western governments blamed on Putin’s secret service. After being treated in Germany — and despite near certainty he would be jailed — he returned to Russia in January 2021 and was immediately detained. He was eventually sentenced to a nine-year term for fraud and contempt of court.

Navalny was sentenced to an additional 19 years in August after a court convicted him of “extremism” in a trial held inside a high-security prison.

The US and the European Union had called for Navalny’s release, condemning his convictions as politically motivated.

In prison, Navalny reported worsening health problems and blamed the authorities for denying him proper medical care.

His health concerns deteriorated in August 2022, as prison authorities repeatedly placed him in a punishment cell for minor infractions of the rules. His allies accused the authorities of slowly poisoning him, perhaps through prison food, causing him to lose weight rapidly.

In December, just as Putin was preparing to announce his candidacy, Navalny was transferred to the remote prison camp, IK-3, in Russia’s Yamal-Nenets region, after nearly three weeks in which his whereabouts were unknown to his allies and lawyers. The settlement is about 3,300 kilometers (2,050 miles) by road from Navalny’s previous jail, which was about 100 kilometers outside Moscow.

“For those who still believe in elections in Russia, the killing of Navalny must be a final signal,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said. “The West must not recognize elections in Russia and to sanction people who contributed to Navalny’s fate.”

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    RatPutin the Mad Midget (with apologies to Rasputin the Mad Monk). And our Mad Midget Mbalooney is off to Moscow to worship the sod.

  • James Lang says:

    The chilling similarity between the ANC corruption and cadre deployment and the “democrats” of Putin’s United Russia Party as demonstrated in Navalny’s essay on fear and loathing is sobering to say the least, but now Navalny’s death in IK-3 [read Vlakplaas] and the ANC’s embarrassing relationship with Navalny’s killer Putin is loathsome. Mbalula and his ridiculous trip for a conference on “neocolonialism” in Moscow [ never mind Ukraine, try closer to home in West Africa] is just further evidence of how utterly ludicrous our present government is.

  • Paddy Ross says:

    So,what is the SA government’s official response to Navalny’s murder?

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    The Russians have fought one revolution successfully; With all my heart I hope that this will push them to do another one and free the country from a parasite who has milked the country for decades to satisfy his hunger for power and wealth. His “castle” close to Sochi says it all.

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