Alexei Navalny death is a pre-election gambit from Putin: Bill Browder

Alexei Navalny death is a pre-election gambit from Putin: Bill Browder

Anti-Kremlin activist Bill Browder says we must save the lives of other Putin opponents

Anti-Kremlin activist Bill Browder said he believes Alexei Navalny’s death was intended as a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political opponents ahead of next month’s election.

Dissident Navalny, who died on Friday, was serving a 19-year prison sentence on charges of extremism in Russia, which he vehemently denied.

World leaders reacted to the death with dismay and suspicion. US President Joe Biden said: “Putin is responsible for this.” The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the West’s reaction to Navalny’s death was “self-embarrassing” because no forensic medical examination was available at the time.

Browder, the CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management and a friend of Navalny, also accused the Russian leader of being behind the death.

“Well, this is happening before the presidential elections, and I should use this word lightly, there are no elections in Russia, they are sham elections. But Putin needs to create a sense of legitimacy, and the last thing he wants to do is let Alexei Navalny say things from prison that make people not support Putin,” he said on Saturday Munich Security Conference told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro.

William Browder, co-founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital LLP, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on July 27, 2017 in Washington, DC

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“And I think this is a move by Putin in the run-up to the elections: he kills his main opponent and sends the message to everyone else that if you get involved in opposition politics, you die. That’s the message.”

Prison authorities said Navalny’s cause of death had yet to be determined and the Kremlin vowed to investigate his death.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

A spokesman for Navalny confirmed his death on Saturday after Russian media reported that he died on Friday, citing the prison service of the Yamal-Nenets region where he was detained.

Navalny – one of Putin’s harshest critics – was poisoned in August 2020 but survived. The Kremlin denied any involvement in his poisoning.

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2024-02-17 13:29:24