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“He paid with his life for resisting a system of oppression”: World leaders react to news of Alexei Navalny’s death

On February 16, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) reported the death of opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who was serving a 19-year sentence in the IK-3 prison in the country’s Far North.

The first world leader to react to the report was Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics, who directly accused the Kremlin of “brutally murdering” Navalny. In their statements, most Western politicians have, to varying degrees, placed the responsibility for Navalny's death on the Putin regime.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak:

“This is terrible news. As the fiercest advocate for Russian democracy, Alexei Navalny demonstrated incredible courage throughout his life. My thoughts are with his wife and the people of Russia, for whom this is a huge tragedy.”

EU Council President Charles Michel:

“Alexei Navalny fought for the values of freedom and democracy. For his ideals, he made the ultimate sacrifice. The EU holds the Russian regime for sole responsible for this tragic death.
I extend my deepest condolences to his family. And to those who fight for democracy around the world in the darkest conditions. Fighters die. But the fight for #freedom never ends.”

Jan Lipavsky, Foreign Minister of Czechia:

“It is still true that the same way Russia behaves in foreign policy, it also behaves towards its citizens. It has turned into a violent state that kills people who dream of a better future, like Nemtsov or now Navalny — imprisoned and tortured to death for standing up to Putin. Honor his memory.”

Stéphane Séjourné, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France:

“Alexei Navalny paid with his life for his resistance to a system of oppression. His death in a penal colony reminds us of the reality of Vladimir Putin's regime. To his family, his loved ones and the Russian people, France presents its condolences.”

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the Belarusian democratic movement, recognized by multiple European governments as the President-elect of Belarus:

“Today news appeared online about the death of Alexei Navalny in a Russian colony. This death is further proof that for dictators, human life has no value. The Putin regime, like the Lukashenko regime, in an effort to maintain power, gets rid of opponents by any means. [...]
Alexei, like many Belarusian political prisoners, was repeatedly sent to a punishment cell. This was done for the 27th time in February. We all saw in the photo how such conditions of detention affected his condition. This is why I have no doubt that Navalny was purposefully killed by the Putin regime.
I understand perfectly well how this news makes the hearts of everyone whose loved ones are now in prison ache. Yulia Navalnaya and her and Alexey’s children today received the most terrible news that we are afraid to receive about thousands of our loved ones. I express my sincere condolences to the family, relatives and colleagues of Alexei Navalny. My heart is with you today.”

Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine:

“It has just become known that Alexei Navalny has died in a Russian prison. Obviously, he was killed by Putin, like thousands of others tortured, tortured because of this one creature. Putin doesn't care who dies, as long as he keeps his position.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg:

“We need to establish all the facts, and Russia needs to answer all the serious questions about the circumstances of his death.”

Tobias Billstrom, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden:

“Dreadful news about Alexei Navalny. If the report about his death in Russian prison is true it represents another terrible crime by Putin’s regime. The ruthlessness against Navalny shows again why it is necessary to continue to fight against authoritarianism.”

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands:

“Very shocked by the news of the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. It illustrates the unprecedented brutality of the Russian regime. Navalny fought for democratic values ​​and against corruption. He had to pay for his struggle with death while he was held under the most harsh and inhumane conditions. I wish his family, loved ones and everyone who fought with him for change in Russia much strength.”

Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium:

“Alexei Navalny was an advocate for democracy and human rights. His tragic death again underscores why we will continue to support Ukraine. Russia will not prevail in Ukraine. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Navalny and all brave Russian political prisoners.”

Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz:

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Alexei Navalny. He stood up for democracy and freedom in Russia - and apparently paid for his courage with his life. This terrible news shows once again how Russia has changed and what kind of regime is in power in Moscow.”

Salome Zourabichvili, President of Georgia:

“Alexei Navalny's death is a tragedy for all democracy and human rights defenders. My condolences to his family and those who in Russia continue his fight for democracy.”

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