Did Vladimir Putin order death of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny? US intelligence says…

Alexei Navalny, a prominent Kremlin critic, was killed at an Arctic prison camp in February, leading many to blame Vladimir Putin. US intelligence contradicts this, stating Putin did not order Navalny's death.

Livemint
First Published27 Apr 2024
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during а meeting of the Federal Assembly's Council of Legislators in Saint Petersburg
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during а meeting of the Federal Assembly’s Council of Legislators in Saint Petersburg(via REUTERS)

Prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was killed at an Arctic prison camp in February with many laying the blame squarely with Vladimir Putin. US intelligence however suggests that the Russian President did not order the death of the Opposition leader. The Russian government has also denied the allegations with Putin insisting recently that he had been ready to hand the jailed politician over to the West in a prisoner exchange.

World leaders including US President Joe Biden have held Putin responsible for Navalny's death — leading to a a new round of sanctions against the other country. US officials however believe that the timing of his demise wasn’t intended by Putin.

A Wall Street Journal report quoting intelligence agencies suggests that the Russian leader did not directly order Navalny's death in February. It is pertinent to note here that the findings do not question his culpability in the Opposition leader's death. Putin had previously been accused of targeting Navalny on several occasions — including an assasination attempt in 2020. The publication quoted officials in the know to add that Putin probably didn't order it “at that moment”. 

ALSO READ: Vladimir Putin has been fighting not just Ukraine, but his own people

Several prominent Kremlin opponents have died, been jailed or even forced into exile in recent years. Navalny had been serving a 19-year prison sentence at the time of his death and seemed to be relatively healthy and in good spirits just a day earlier. He had reportedly been been the subject of high-level talks over a potential prisoner swap that could have freed him mere days before his demise. 

The Russian prison service said that he had collapsed on February 16 after a walk at the isolated camp. It said that attempts to revive him failed.

(With inputs from agencies)

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