'Russia’s Responsible': Biden, World Leaders React To Reports Of Alexei Navalny’s Death

"Whatever story they tell, let us be clear, Russia is responsible," Vice President Kamala Harris said.
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President Joe Biden on Friday squarely cast blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin for the reported death of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The U.S. has not independently confirmed Navalny’s death, but Biden said he has no reason not to believe it’s true, and that it offers “yet more proof of Putin’s brutality.”

“Make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” Biden said in a speech from the White House. “We don’t know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was the consequence of what Putin and his thugs did.”

Biden described Navalny, 47, as brave, principled and “dedicated to building a Russia where the rule of law existed and applied to everybody.”

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Friday.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Friday.
via Associated Press

Throughout Navalny’s pursuit of democracy, “Putin had him poisoned, he had him arrested, he had him prosecuted for fabricated crimes. He sentenced him to prison, he was isolated in prison ― even all that didn’t stop him from calling him out for his lies. Even in prison, he was a powerful voice for the truth,” Biden said. “His courage will not be forgotten.”

Vice President Kamala Harris also called out Putin and his regime.

“If confirmed, this would be a further sign of Putin’s brutality,” she said of Navalny’s death in a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, which Navalny’s wife attended. “Whatever story they tell, let us be clear, Russia is responsible.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan also reacted with criticism of Putin, citing his government’s history of suppression and brutality.

Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday said Navalny's death, if confirmed, would offer "a further sign" of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s "brutality."
Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday said Navalny's death, if confirmed, would offer "a further sign" of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s "brutality."
picture alliance via Getty Images

“Russia’s responsible for this,” Blinken told reporters. “The fear of one man only underscores the weakness and rot at the heart of the system that Putin has built.”

“If it’s confirmed, it is a terrible tragedy,” Sullivan separately told NPR. “Given the Russian government’s long and sordid history of doing harm to its opponents, it raises real and obvious questions about what happened here.”

European leaders were also quick to blame Putin and describe Navalny as a martyr for democracy.

Russia has “some very serious questions to answer,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters. “Alexei Navalny has been a strong voice for freedom, for democracy for many years and NATO and NATO allies have called for his release for a long time.”

Protesters hold posters with a portrait of Navalny and a sign that reads "Putin is a killer" during a protest in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin on Friday.
Protesters hold posters with a portrait of Navalny and a sign that reads "Putin is a killer" during a protest in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin on Friday.
via Associated Press

European Council President Charles Michel also slammed Russia.

“The [European Union] holds the Russian regime for sole responsible for this tragic death,” he said in a statement. “Alexei Navalny fought for the values of freedom and democracy. For his ideals, he made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs didn’t mince words while reacting to reports of Navalny’s death, calling it a murder.

“Whatever your thoughts about Alexey Navalny as the politician, he was just brutally murdered by the Kremlin,” he posted on social media. “That’s a fact and that is something one should know about the true nature of Russia’s current regime.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz similarly hailed Navalny’s selflessness and courage while condemning Russia.

An image of Navalny is seen alongside floral tributes near the Russian Embassy in London following news that the jailed Russian opposition leader has died.
An image of Navalny is seen alongside floral tributes near the Russian Embassy in London following news that the jailed Russian opposition leader has died.
James Manning - PA Images via Getty Images

“He stood up for democracy and freedom in Russia — and apparently paid for his courage with his life,” Scholz said in a statement. “This terrible news shows once again how Russia has changed and what kind of regime is in power in Moscow.”

Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, reportedly received a standing ovation while speaking at the Munich Security Conference and urging the international community to stand together against Russia’s government.

“Whatever your thoughts about Alexey Navalny as the politician, he was just brutally murdered by the Kremlin.”

- Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs

“I would like to call upon all the international community, all the people in the world, we should come together and we should fight against this evil,” Navalnaya said, according to The Washington Post. “We should fight this horrific regime in Russia today.”

Russia’s Federal Prison Service said Navalny died Friday after losing consciousness at a penal colony while serving out a 19-year sentence on extremism charges. A Russian foreign ministry spokesperson criticized Western governments for being so quick to cast blame on the Kremlin before forensic medical data has been made available.

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