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Biden: Putin is responsible for Navalny's death

by Martin Fornusek February 16, 2024 7:44 PM 3 min read
U.S. President Joe Biden gives a speech in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb. 13, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
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Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is responsible for the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said U.S. President Joe Biden on Feb. 16.

"Reports of his death, if true, and I have no reason to believe they're not," Biden said, noting that Russian authorities are going to "make up their own story."

"Make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny's death," Biden told the press, calling it another example of the Russian leader's brutality.

Responding to a journalist later on, Biden clarified that Washington does not know the exact circumstances of Navalny's death but said they were certainly a result of actions by "Putin and his thugs."

The president was reminded of his words from 2021 that Russia would face "devastating consequences" if something were to happen to Navalny.

Biden clarified that since then, Russia has already faced "hell of a lot of consequences," including extensive sanctions and military losses in Ukraine. He did not reveal any potential further steps that the U.S. would take in response to Navalny's death, saying that multiple options are being considered.

The U.S. president lauded Navalny "as a powerful voice of the truth," saying that despite the Kremlin persecution, he returned to Russia "as he deeply believed in his country."

"Putin does not only target the citizens of other countries, as we can see in Ukraine right now, he also inflicts terrible crimes on his own people," the president said.

Biden added that this tragedy should remind the U.S. of the stakes at this moment, again urging Congress to pass additional aid for Ukraine.

The U.S. Senate approved additional funding for Kyiv earlier this week. However, the bill is likely to face steep opposition from hardline Republicans in the House who are close to their party's presidential hopeful, Donald Trump.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, whose views closely align with those of Trump, has so far refused to put the bill for a vote, putting the House on recess until the end of February.

"A failure to support Ukraine at this moment will never be forgotten," Biden said, adding that "the clock is ticking."

Kremlin spokesperson: Putin informed about Navalny’s death
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that “doctors must find out” more details about Navalny’s reported death. Peskov added that Russian President Vladimir Putin had been informed of the news.

Russian media reported on Feb. 16 that Navalny died in prison. Navalny was being held in a penal colony in Russia's far northern Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District.

According to the prison service, Navalny supposedly lost consciousness and could not be revived.

The penal colony that Navalny was held in is located in a remote settlement north of the Arctic Circle, with "tough conditions" and limited access to letter delivery, according to Zhdanov, the head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation established by Navalny.

Navalny was previously held in the IK-6 Melekhovo high-security prison in Russia's Vladimir Oblast.

Navalny had been serving a 2.5-year prison sentence since 2021 and a separate 9-year sentence on fraud charges since 2022.

A Russian court also sentenced Navalny to 19 years in a maximum security prison in August 2023 on extremism charges for creating the Anti-Corruption Foundation.

All these cases have been recognized as politically motivated and fabricated by international human rights organizations and governments.

Navalny was poisoned in Russia in 2020 and flown for treatment in Germany. German doctors said he had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent — a chemical weapon produced by the Russian government.

The Insider, Bellingcat, CNN, and Der Spiegel published an investigation according to which Navalny had been poisoned by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service. They also identified the agents' names.

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