Alexei Navalny ’had to die’: How world reacted to death of Vladimir Putin’s critic

Alexei Navalny death news: Reactions from across the world poured in as Russian media reported about the dead of the country's prominent opposition leader. Here's how UK PM Rishi Sunak, German minister Annalena Baerbock, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and others reacted to the reports.

Updated16 Feb 2024
Alexei Navalny death news: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin has been told about Navalny's death.
Alexei Navalny death news: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin has been told about Navalny’s death.(REUTERS)

Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin's critic and a significant opposition leader, reportedly died in prison, Russian media Tass news agency reported on Friday. It cited "Federal Penitentiary Service of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region" as saying that the "convict" was not "feeling well and fainted almost instantly" after a walk on February 16.

While Navalny’s and Kremlin spokesperson and Krimlin said they "had no information about the matter", here's how leaders across the world reacted to Alexei Navalny's death.

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.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock: "Like no other, Alexei Nawalny was a symbol of a free and democratic Russia. That's exactly why he had to die. My thoughts are with his wife and children."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: "It is obvious Alexei Navalny was killed by Putin," Zelensky was quoted by Kyiv Post as saying.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz: He said he was "very sad" about reports on the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, saying it was a "terrible" sign of how Russia as a country had changed in recent years.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen: "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."

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dmitry Muratov: Speaking to Reuters, Muratov called the death "murder" and said that he believed prison conditions had led to Navalny's demise.

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne: "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."

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström: "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."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken: "The fear of one man only underscores the weakness and rot at the heart of the system that Putin has built. Russia is responsible for this. We'll be talking to many other countries concerned about Alexei Navalny..."

Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski: "My heart now goes to the family of Alexei Navalny, who is a hero and a symbol for all Russian democrats...He was convicted in a trial on false charges... He was placed in prison, where he lived in terrible conditions. Vladimir Putin is responsible for all this."

Tap here to read more about Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny 

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg: He said he was "deeply saddened and disturbed" by the reports of Navalny's death. "We need to establish all the facts, and Russia needs to answer all the serious questions about the circumstances of his death."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte: Navalny's death "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 harshest and most inhumane conditions. I wish his family, loved ones and everyone who fought with him for change in Russia much strength."

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo: "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."

Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics: "Whatever your thoughts about Alexei Navalny as the politician, he was just brutally murdered by the Kremlin. That's a fact and that is something one should know about the true nature of Russia's current regime. My condolences to the family and friends."

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky: "It’s still the case that just as Russia treats its foreign policy, it treats 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. Rest in peace."

What Russian officials said on Navalny's death

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov: Peskov said President Vladimir Putin has been told about Navalny's death.

Alexei Navalny's wife Yulia Navalnaya: “We cannot believe Putin’s government. They are lying constantly. But if this is the truth…I'd like Putin and all his staff to know that they will be punished for what they have done with our country, with my family and with my husband. We should fight this horrific regime in Russia today. Vladimir Putin should be personally held for all the atrocities they have committed in our country in the last years"

Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh: “We don’t have any confirmation of this yet. Alexei's lawyer is now flying to Kharp. As soon as we have any information, we will report it.”

Navalny aide Leonid Volkov: Volkov said he was unable to confirm the death, adding Navalny's lawyer was travelling to the site of the prison where the opposition leader had been serving his sentence.

Russia's Investigative Committee: The committee said it has launched a procedural probe into the death.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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