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Western leaders react to death of prominent Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny


Leaders from various European countries and EU executives on Friday blamed the Kremlin for the death of prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny. 

European Council President Charles Michel said on X that Navalny fought for freedom and democracy in Russia.

“The EU holds the Russian regime for sole responsible for this tragic death,” he said.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also expressed condolences on Navalny’s death, saying on X, “Putin fears nothing more than dissent from his own people. A grim reminder of what Putin and his regime are all about.”

Similarly, EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell stated on X, “While awaiting further information, let’s be clear: this is Putin’s sole responsibility.”

Moreover, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a post on X praised Navalny as the most ardent supporter of democracy in Russia who demonstrated courage his entire life.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also said on X, “Like no other, Alexei Navalny was a symbol of a free and democratic Russia. That’s exactly why he had to die.”

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne took a more direct stance against the Russian government over Navalny’s death, saying “Alexei Navalny paid with his life for his resistance to an oppression system. His death in penitentiary colony reminds us of the reality of Vladimir Putin’s regime.”

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on X, “I am very touched by the death of Alexey Navalny after years of persecution in prison, we are close to his family and the Russian people.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo remarked, “His tragic death again underscores why we will continue to support Ukraine. Russia will not prevail in Ukraine.”

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson blamed Russia for Navalny’s death, saying on X, “The Russian authorities, and President Putin personally, are responsible for Alexei Navalny no longer being alive.”

Similarly, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy accused the Russian government of “killing” Navalny during a joint news conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“It’s obvious to me that he was killed, like thousands of others who had been tortured to death. Because of this Russian leader. Putin doesn’t care who dies, as long as he stays in his position, and this is why he should lose everything, he should lose the war and he should be held accountable for the crimes that were committed on his behalf,” he said.

Separately, Romanian Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu expressed her shock over Navalny’s death, saying on X that “there should be no doubt about Putin’s regime responsibility.”

Iceland Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson said on X, “Putin and the Russian government bear ultimate responsibility for his death.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also held Russia responsible for Navalny’s death.

“Alexei Navalny fought fiercely for democracy and stood up to a brutal, authoritarian regime. A regime that made sure Navalny paid for his bravery first with his freedom, and now with his life,” he said on X.

The Russian penitentiary service said on Friday that opposition figure Alexei Navalny, 47, died in a prison colony while serving his sentence.

The service said in a statement that Navalny lost consciousness after a walk in the Arctic Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, where the colony is located.

Russian authorities conducted several inspections to determine the facts surrounding Navalny’s death.

Navalny was arrested in Jan. 2021 after being treated for poisoning in a German hospital. Western countries and Navalny himself blamed Russia for the poisoning, a claim the Kremlin denies.

Later in Aug. 2021, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison for extremism and other crimes. He was already serving an 11-year and five-month jail sentence for fraud.

Source: AA