Navalny’s Death: Putin’s Fear of Internal Dissent

International reactions increased following the announcement of the death of the Russian president’s opponent on Friday February 16. “Let us unite in our fight to safeguard the freedom and security of those who dare to speak out against autocracy,” insisted the President of the European Commission.

Vladimir Putin’s opponent died on Friday February 16 in the Russian Arctic prison where he was serving a 19-year prison sentence. When the death of Alexeï Navalny was announced, many European voices were raised to honor his memory and point the finger at the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin “fears nothing more than the dissidence of his own people,” Ursula von der Leyen immediately reacted on the social network X (formerly Twitter). “Let us unite in our fight to safeguard the freedom and security of those who dare to speak out against autocracy,” added the President of the European Commission. “The world has lost a fighter whose courage will reverberate through generations,” underlined the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, while the head of the European Council Charles Michel paid tribute to the “fighters” who “fight for democracy ”.

The heads of state and government also shared their grief. “In today’s Russia, free spirits are put in the gulag and sentenced to death. Anger and indignation,” declared French President Emmanuel Macron, saluting in passing the “memory” of Alexeï Navalny, “his commitment” and “his courage”. On the other side of the Rhine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz assured that the Russian opponent had “paid for his courage with his life”. The United States also underlined the “long and sordid” history of the Kremlin with regard to its political opponents.

While Russian authorities have warned against any “unauthorized” demonstrations in Moscow, the Kremlin has accused Washington of making “cookie cutter” judgments. “We will not spare our efforts to hold Russian political leaders and authorities accountable,” warned Ursula von der Leyen and the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell in a joint press release.

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