Biden Accuses Putin for Navalny's Death: 'He is Responsible'

World Reacts to Sudden Death of Russian Opposition Leader

by Zain ul Abedin
Biden Accuses Putin for Navalny's Death: 'He is Responsible'
© Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

In a sombre development, the Office of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia announced the death of Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin and a leading figure in the Russian opposition. Navalny, 47, reportedly passed away in prison, as confirmed by multiple news sources.

The events unfolded on February 16, 2024, at correctional colony No 3, where Navalny, after feeling unwell post a walk, lost consciousness. Despite immediate medical attention and resuscitation efforts, he could not be revived.

Navalny's spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, revealed through a post on X (formerly Twitter) that Navalny's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, officially confirmed the news of his passing on February 16 at 2:17 p.m. Navalny's lawyer has since traveled to Harp [Kharp], Russia, to further investigate the circumstances.

A survivor of a previous nerve agent poisoning, which he attributed to the Russian government, Navalny was a vehement critic of Putin's administration. Despite vehement denials from Russia regarding the poisoning, Navalny, upon his return to Russia after recovery in Germany, was arrested and had been serving a 30-year sentence on extremism charges since 2021.

His imprisonment raised international concerns, especially following a mysterious disappearance in 2023 that led to his discovery in a penal colony above the Arctic Circle. The Russian Investigative Committee has initiated a procedural investigation into Navalny's death.

Concurrently, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through spokesperson Maria Zakharova, expressed scepticism over the quick international response blaming Russia, citing a lack of forensic evidence. In the United States, President Joe Biden, in a live-streamed address, condemned the incident, directly holding Putin accountable for Navalny's death.

Biden praised Navalny's courage and commitment to confronting the Putin government's corruption and violence. He expressed his condolences to Navalny's family and supporters, emphasizing the significance of Navalny's bravery and his contribution to the fight for democracy.

Global Leaders Demand Accountability

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also commented on the situation, highlighting the fear and fragility of Putin's regime. Blinken, along with other international leaders, has pledged to seek accountability for Navalny's death.

Global reactions have poured in, with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Council President Charles Michel expressing their condolences and outrage. Michel particularly held the Russian regime solely responsible for Navalny's tragic death.

In a poignant reflection, Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, spoke at the Munich Security Conference, questioning the credibility of the news and vowing to hold Putin and his government accountable. Navalny, a relentless fighter against corruption, founded the Anti-Corruption Foundation in 2011, later deemed an extremist organization by Russia.

His activism, including his mayoral candidacy and participation in mass protests, has been a beacon for democratic aspirations in Russia. In prison correspondence published by TIME in 2022, Navalny called for international pressure on the Kremlin to aid the internal fight for a free, democratic Russia.

His daughter Dasha (Daria) Navalnaya, writing for TIME, honored her father's stand against Putin's war in Ukraine and his unwavering commitment to democracy. Navalny's demise marks a significant moment in Russia's political landscape, resonating globally as a symbol of resistance and the high cost of dissent in Putin's Russia.