Biden says Putin 'responsible' for Navalny death as western leaders mount pressure on Russia

US President Joe Biden says Putin is ‘responsible’ for Alexei Navalny’s death • Malta’s Foreign Minister and current OSCE chair Ian Borg wants Russia to provide ‘clarity’ on dissident’s death

Russian opposition politician and dissident Alexei Navalny died while being jailed in a remote Arctic prison
Russian opposition politician and dissident Alexei Navalny died while being jailed in a remote Arctic prison

US President Joe Biden has said Vladimir Putin is “responsible” for Russian dissident Alexei Navalny’s death in a remote Arctic prison.

The reaction came hours after the Russian prison service announced Navalny’s death on Friday.

“Make no mistake. Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death… what has happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin’s brutality. No one should be fooled, not in Russia not at home nor anywhere in the world. Putin does not only target the citizens of other countries as we are seeing in Ukraine now, he also inflicts terrible crimes on his own people,” Biden said.

He said Navalny was “so many things Putin is not”, describing the Russian dissident as “brave, principled, and dedicated to building a Russia where rule of law existed for everyone”.

Malta’s Foreign Minister Ian Borg, who currently chairs the OSCE, a regional security organisation, which also includes Russia, called on the Russian authorities “to provide clarity regarding the circumstances of his death”, as he offered Navalny’s family the country’s condolences.

The 47-year-old outspoken critic of President Putin has been in a Russian jail since 2021 on politically-motivated charges.

Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, has said she doesn't know whether the "horrible news" is true.

Demonstrations and vigils took place near Russian embassies on Friday night in many countries. In Russia reports have emerged of more than 100 street protesters being detained in several cities amid warnings to people not to rally.

Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela described Navalny as a “staunch champion of democracy” and said the news of his death was “devastating”.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to his family,” Abela said on X.

Opposition leader Bernard Grech said Navalny’s fight for democracy and transparency will not be forgotten. “Our thoughts are with his family and those who stand for freedom in Russia and around the world,” he said.

EU leaders

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “deeply disturbed and saddened” by news of the death of Alexei Navalny.

“Putin fears nothing more than dissent from his own people. A grim reminder of what Putin and his regime are all about. Let's unite in our fight to safeguard the freedom and safety of those who dare to stand up against autocracy,” Von der Leyen said.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola was more forthwith, accusing Russia of “taking Navalny’s freedom and life but not his dignity”.

“The world has lost a fighter whose courage will echo through generations. Horrified by the death of Sakharov Prize laureate Alexei Navalny… His struggle for democracy lives on. Our thoughts are with his wife & children,” Metsola said on X.

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron said that in Russia “free spirits are sent to the Gulag and condemned to death” as he shared his “anger and indignation” in a post on X.

“I pay tribute to the memory of Alexei Navalny, his dedication, his courage. My thoughts go out to his family, loved ones and to the Russian people,” Macron added.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski

Poland's Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski said Navalny would be remembered as “the best Russian president that Russia never had”.

He said Navalny was a “victim of Russian fascism” and that he was “beyond brave” in facing Putin. He added that even if no-one “pulled the trigger”, it was the conditions that were created for him that killed him as he was imprisoned on fake charges.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on X that Navalny died “after years of persecution in prison” adding that the Italian government “will always be at the side of those who fight for democracy, for freedom of thought and for the inalienable rights of every human being”.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, who has just been added to Russia's wanted list, said on X that Navalny's death was “yet another dark reminder of the rogue regime we’re dealing with – and why Russia and all those responsible must be held accountable for each of their crimes”.