According to AFP, the United States has threatened Moscow with “consequences” if Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny dies in prison, while the opposition has called for mass demonstrations across Russia to help save his life.
One day after Navalny’s doctors said he might die “any minute,” Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the US had warned the Kremlin that if he died, it would be “kept responsible by the international community.”
The protests against Alexei’s plight have been joined by France, Germany, and the European Union. Navalny’s team announced on Sunday that major protests will take place across Russia on Wednesday evening, just hours before Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech. “It’s time to act,” Navalny’s right-hand man Leonid Volkov said on Facebook, “We are not only talking about Navalny’s freedom, but his life.”
Wednesday’s rally, according to Volkov, may be a decisive fight against “pure evil” — or Russia’s last opposition rally for years. The Kremlin did not react immediately, but Andrei Kelin, the Russian ambassador in London, said that Navalny “would not be able to die in prison.”
Authorities have increased their pressure on Navalny’s supporters in recent months, detaining over 10,000 demonstrators during opposition rallies in January and February.
Russian prosecutors asked a court on Friday to declare Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation and his network of regional offices “extremist” organisations, which would make them illegal in Russia and subject their members and supporters to jail time. Navalny was apprehended in January after returning to Russia following a near-fatal poisoning he claims was orchestrated by the Kremlin. The accusation is denied by the Kremlin.
On March 31, Navalny started a hunger strike to demand proper medical attention for his back pain and numbness in his legs and hands. Navalny’s doctors said that his health had quickly deteriorated and requested immediate access from prison authorities on Saturday.
Washington put new sanctions on Moscow earlier this week in response to a major cyberattack, election meddling, and other activities. The sanctions have come as the crisis looms large on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Biden’s latest threat to Russia over Navalny is another irresponsible act of the sitting Democrat President in the United States.
Trying to irk Russia to make the first move in the Ukrainian crisis, Biden is pushing for war. Although the Nato allies of the United States are increasingly pressing for resolving the crisis diplomatically and responsibly, both France and Germany have pressed Russia over the issue of Navalny but have stopped short of threatening Russia over Ukraine, calling for a more responsible approach. However, Biden seems to be looking for a space to trigger the crisis in Eastern Europe and Navalny’s death could be the perfect opportunity. Therefore, Putin cannot let Navalny die in prison.