Getty Images

Putin Speaks Out on Navalny Death for First Time: ‘It Happens’

President Putin reacted to the death of the nationalist opposition leader which triggered a wave of condemnation in February, caustically noting: “It happens. There is nothing you can do about it. It’s life”.

Western leaders may be criticising the Russian elections, but President Vladimir Putin has clearly been left feeling emboldened by the vote, and chose this moment to comment publicly on the mysterious death of one of his most prominent critics for the first time. Speaking on a late-night television interview as results of the vote that is rubber-stamping another six years as President, Putin made it clear he wasn’t overflowing with sympathy for his former critic, and batted away criticism by insisting that prisoners also die in American prisons.

President Putin said: “well, he passed away, and this always is a sad occurrence. But there were other cases of people dying in penitentiary facilities, too… People are dying in US prisons too, aren’t they… It happens. There is nothing you can do about it. It’s life.”

The Russian strongman also claimed that before Navalny died in an arctic penal colony, Putin had agreed in principle to a prisoner swap, which would allow the camapigner to be released abroad in return for a Russian prisoner held by the West, and on the condition that he never returned to Russia. Putin said he had been approached by a non-governmental colleague who had suggested a prisoner swap, and claimed he had instantly agreed to the idea before his interlocutor had finished talking.

Reflecting this plan was unable to come to fruition because just “a few days” later, Navalny died in prison, Putin said: “But unfortunately, whatever happened, happened”. Putin made no indication of who he may have considered swapping for Navalny from the West, but it has previously been claimed it would have been for Russian hitman Vadim Krasikov, who is serving a life sentence for murder in a German prison.

Putin watchers noted the comments are the first time he had referred to Navalny by name in years, the Associated Press stated.

While Russia claims Navalny died of “sudden death syndrome”, Navalny’s supporters claim he was assassinated, or at least condemned to death by being exiled to a brutal prison in the arctic circle. His wife, Yulia Navalnaya said her husband had been killed by Vladimir Putin and called on his followers not to give up. Navalny had already been targeted with a nerve agent in 2020 and nearly killed.

The claims by the Russian President are not the first that’s been heard of a putative prisoner swap to see Navalny released to the West. Indeed, after Navalny’s death it was stated by his allies they had got close to arranging an exchange and it was alleged he had been killed in prison to stop it from going ahead. Maria Pevchikh was reported in February as saying: “Navalny should have been free in the next few days because we had secured a decision to exchange him… I received confirmation that the negotiations were at their final stage on the evening of 15 February.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Italy Warns Sending NATO Troops Into Ukraine Could Lead to a ‘Third World War’, Accuses Macron of Exploiting Conflict for Political Purposes

Lott & Levinson Debate Whether Second Amendment was a Mistake