February 2024International NewsEurope

The World Responds to the Death of Alexis Navalny

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Madeline Kruszczynski
Staff Writer

On February 16, the death of Alexis Navalny, a prominent political adversary of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, sent shockwaves through the world. His death in prison is assured to have profound implications not only within the Russian government, but also on the global economic stage, as the United States imposed numerous sanctions on Russia in response. While the exact cause of Navalny’s death remains uncertain, U.S. President Joe Biden unequivocally asserted that, “Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” according to The New York Times

This abrupt critic of Putin is not an isolated incident; rather, it draws attention to the series of fatalities experienced by the Russian leader’s previous adversaries, such as Russian Intelligence figure Alexander Litvinenko and Russian military leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, as documented by The Guardian.

 Navalny, celebrated as a symbol of hope and resilience in the face of Putin’s leadership and pervasive corruption in Russia, leaves behind a legacy that transcends borders. His death further escalates tensions between the democratic West and Russia, adding another layer of complexity to an already strained geopolitical landscape.

“All it takes for evil to triumph is the inaction of good people. There’s no need for inaction,” Navalny remarked, as reported by The Economist. Navalny was born in 1976 to a Soviet army officer father and an economist mother. He studied law and began his focus in anti-corruption. Navalny also created RosPil, an anti-corruption project exposing various corrupt bodies, including state agencies, as reported by The Independent

In 2013, Navalny ran for the position of Moscow’s mayor, narrowly missing victory. However, this setback marked just the beginning of his impactful political journey. Navalny persistently advanced his efforts against corruption, even falling victim to what  his spokesperson deemed the first incident of poisoning orchestrated by the Russian government in 2020, as reported by Al Jazeera

In August of 2020, while on a domestic flight over Siberia, Navalny fell ill and was hospitalized, leading to speculations of poisoning in his tea. Doctors in Russia told Navalny no poison was found in his system, but upon testing in Germany, the results indicated poison. Further, testing in France and Sweden confirmed Germany’s finding, rousing distrust in the Russian government, gaining victories for Navalny’s allies, as reported by Reuters

Now, four years later, Alexis Navalny was found dead in one of Russia’s highest security prisons in the arctic circle, Penal Colony 3, where he was being held on extremism charges. The conditions in the prison are known to be, so much so that a 2021 report conducted by the U.S. Department of State says the conditions “were often harsh and life threatening. Overcrowding, abuse by guards and inmates, limited access to health care, food shortages and inadequate sanitation were common in prisons, penal colonies, and other detention facilities,” as reported by The Associated Press.

Navalny was outspoken about this treatment, according to Amnesty International. He was subject to a denial of medical treatment, sleep deprivation, and freezing temperatures. Penal Colony 3 experiences temperatures as low at –20 CE, as reported by BBC News

The effects of Navalny’s death are now unfolding on the international stage. The U.S., wielding a formidable arsenal of sanctions, has swiftly acted to condemn Putin for the alleged wrongful death of Navalny, while concurrently reinforcing its commitment to supporting Ukraine in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, now entering its third year.

“We must sustain unwavering support for Ukraine, even as we dismantle Russia’s war machine. Congress must step up to align with our global allies, providing Ukraine with the necessary means to defend itself,” emphasized U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, as reported by Reuters.

The potential impact of these sanctions on Russia’s export-driven economy remains uncertain. Nevertheless, the resolute stance taken by the U.S. through this policy is unequivocally aimed at bolstering Navalny’s cause and championing the principles of democracy.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

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