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Biden meets deceased Putin critic Alexei Navalny's family, promises sanctions on Russia

Navalny, a prominent critic of Putin, died suddenly on Friday after a walk at the "Polar Wolf" penal colony above the Arctic Circle. His death sparked international outrage and his wife Yulia has vowed to continue her husband's work and avenge his "murder".

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee California Published on: February 23, 2024 12:14 IST
US, Joe Biden, Alexei Navalny, US Sanctions on Russia, Vladimir Putin
Image Source : REUTERS US President Joe Biden meets deceased activist Alexei Navalny's wife and daughter.

California: US President Joe Biden on Thursday met Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's wife and daughter and called him "a man of incredible courage". while promising to impose a wide array of sanctions on Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. Navalny, a fierce Putin critic, died last week in a prison camp and many leaders have accused Putin's involvement in the stunning death.

Navalny, 47, fell unconscious and died suddenly on Friday after a walk at the "Polar Wolf" penal colony above the Arctic Circle where he was serving a three-decade sentence, the prison service said. "He was a man of incredible courage and it's amazing how his wife and daughter are emulating that," Biden said after meeting Navalny's wife Yulia Navalnaya and daughter Dasha.

"I know that we're going to be announcing the sanctions against Putin, who is responsible for his death, tomorrow," he announced while speaking to reporters in California. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also said on Thursday that some of the "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds" of sanctions to be unveiled in the coming days would target those responsible for Navalny's death.

The sanctions are aimed at targeting "Putin's war machine" and closing gaps in existing sanctions regimes, coming at the time of the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Biden expresses condolences to Navalny's family

Meanwhile, the White House said the president conveyed his "heartfelt condolences" to Navalny's family. He expressed his admiration for Navalny's "extraordinary courage and his legacy of fighting against corruption and for a free and democratic Russia in which the rule of law applies equally to everyone", the White House said.

"The President emphasized that Alexei’s legacy will carry on through people across Russia and around the world mourning his loss and fighting for freedom, democracy, and human rights. He affirmed that his Administration will announce major new sanctions against Russia tomorrow in response to Aleksey’s death, Russia’s repression and aggression, and its brutal and illegal war in Ukraine," the statement read.

Navalny's mother resists pressure on secret burial

In Russia, Navalny's mother Lyudmila Navalnaya has accused Moscow authorities of attempting to coerce her into accepting a secret burial for her son, according to reports. Navalnaya, aged 69, revealed that she was permitted to see her son's body for the first time since his death under mysterious circumstances in prison. Navalny's press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, disclosed that the authorities issued a death certificate citing "natural causes," fueling suspicions of foul play.

Navalny's family and supporters have vehemently alleged that he was murdered, and they accuse Russian authorities of deliberately delaying the release of his body to conceal evidence. The reluctance to allow a public funeral suggests the Kremlin's apprehension about potential gatherings of Navalny's supporters.

Amid the ordeal, Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, faces threats of arrest if she returns to Russia. Undeterred, she has vowed to continue her husband's fight for democracy and accused President Putin of orchestrating his death. Navalny's death has sparked an outpouring of grief and protest across Russia, with thousands paying tribute despite the risk of arrest.

(with inputs from Reuters)

ALSO READ | Navalny's mother Lyudmila Navalnaya alleges blackmail by Russian authorities for secret burial

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