Putin Names Navalny For The First Time Since Critic's Death In Victorious Election Speech

The autocrat offered his own take on what happened to his most prominent critic.
Vladimir Putin during his victory speech after the Russian presidential election.
Vladimir Putin during his victory speech after the Russian presidential election.
Contributor via Getty Images

Vladimir Putin finally named his most prominent critic Alexei Navalny in a victory speech last night after clinching yet another term in power.

Speaking for the first time since Navalny’s mysterious death in a Russian prison last month, the president said: “It happens. There is nothing you can do about it. It’s life.”

According to a translation shared by Associated Press agency, Putin said – without any evidence – that he had been considering a prisoner swap with the political leader prior to his sudden death.

Speaking after winning yet another term in power, the president said, “certain colleagues, not from the [presidential administration]” told him about “an idea to exchange Navalny for certain people held in penitentiary facilities in western countries”.

He claimed: “Believe it or not, but the person talking to me didn’t even finish their sentence when I said, ‘I agree.’”

Putin said his one condition was that Navalny would not return to Russia.

But, according to the president, “unfortunately, whatever happened, happened.”

Navalny died under mysterious circumstances in February, while serving a lengthy sentence in a Russian penal colony within the Arctic circle.

The charges against him were widely seen to be politically motivated.

Much of the international community has accused Putin of having a hand in Navalny’s death.

US president Joe Biden said there is “no doubt” Navalny’s death was “the consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did”.

A translation from Russian state news agency, TASS, also reported that Putin said: “As far as Mr Navalny is concerned: well, he passed away, and this always is a sad occurrence.

“But there were other cases of people dying in penitentiary facilities, too.”

TASS. claimed that A US journalist tried to ask Putin about any potential link between Navalny’s death and the level of democracy in Russia.

The president replied: “People are dying in US prisons too, aren’t they?”

Putin has suppressed all of his main potential opponents through his 24 years in power – but he just held a presidential election across Russia to maintain the appearance of a democracy.

This latest election means he has supposedly secured a fifth term in office after receiving 85% of the vote.

However, the Kremlin forced people to vote in both Russia and occupied parts of Ukraine in the weekend election, and even used armed troops in some areas to threaten the electorate.


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