Putin Breaks Silence on Alexei Navalny’s Death

(USNewsMag.com) – After securing another victory and his fifth term as Russian president in a landslide election last weekend, Vladimir Putin finally decided to make his first public statements about the death of Alexei Navalny, one of his political opponents who was found dead in a Russian prison cell last month.

The Russian president was in an upbeat mood following his landslide victory in which he claimed about 87% of the votes according to exit polls. Each of the three opponents running against him only picked up about 3-4%. On Monday morning, March 18th, electoral authorities said that voter turnout reached an all-time high at 77%, which they called “record-breaking” and “unprecedented.” In 2018, Russian voter turnout was 67.7%.

How fair elections are in Russia is something many Western leaders have doubts about, especially when considering the case of Navalny, who was one of Putin’s biggest political rivals. The opposition leader died mysteriously in a Russian prison last month, raising theories that the Russian president was involved. The Kremlin denied any involvement, and authorities said “natural causes” killed Navalny.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump was asked about those theories in a recent interview, replying that Putin might have had a hand in it but that no one could know for sure.

At Putin’s campaign headquarters, he addressed the press and his supporters, appearing upbeat and relaxed, and pledged to strengthen and protect Russia. He also took the opportunity to comment on Navalny’s death, whose name he hasn’t mentioned publicly in years. Putin called his nemesis’s death “a sad event,” but pointed out that there are “other instances” of people dying in prison, which he said also happens in the U.S.

Putin also claimed he agreed to release Navalny “several days” before his death, in a proposed prisoner exchange with Western countries. He said he agreed only under the condition that his rival “should never return to Russia” again. Putin said it’s unfortunate that “the thing that happened happened,” adding that nothing could be done about it and that “this is life.”

Putin’s claim that a prisoner swap was underway verifies what some of Navalny’s supporters and one of his aides said last month.

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