Biden Pressures Putin on Navalny as the Dissident's Condition Worsens
US President Joe Biden has warned Vladimir Putin that America and the world will hold him responsible for the life of Russian dissident and anti-corruption campaigner Alexie Navalny, according to White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan.
CNN: "We have communicated to the Russian government that what happens to Mr. Navalny in their custody is their responsibility and they will be held accountable by the international community."
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was even more critical of Putin.
Sanders, Twitter, BI: "Make no mistake about what is happening here: activist Aleksei Navalny is being murdered in front of the world by Vladimir Putin for the crime of exposing Putin's vast corruption. Navalny's doctors must be allowed to see him immediately,"
Navalny, often described as the political opponent that President Putin fears most, is dying slowly in a Russian prison colony after being sentenced to 2.5 years for violating his parole by leaving the country. Nalvalny was forced to flee to Germany for medical treatment after he was poisoned by individuals in Putin's intelligence service according to US and German officials. Navalny went on a hunger strike on March 31 after prison authorities denied him medical attention for pain and numbness in his back and leg. This week, Navalny's physician warned that he was close to death and his supporters have called for large protests on April 21, the same day that President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to deliver an annual state of the nation address. Yesterday, Navalny was moved to another prison in the same region of Russia, but this morning his doctor was again prohibited from seeing him. Navalny represents the greatest threat to Putin's presidency in quite some time. Despite his years of authoritarian rule, endless corruption, a sluggish economy, brutal treatment of political rivals, allegations of election fraud, and a pile of international economic sanctions, Putin has remained fairly popular. However, pro-Navalny protests have grown and swept across Russia since the failed assassination attempt last summer as his supporters continue to uncover evidence of the official corruption that has enriched the enormously wealthy oligarchs around Putin. Moreover, Navalny is increasingly seen as a heroic figure, willing to return from Germany to face near certain death at the hands of those that tried to kill him last year. Joe Biden and the international community probably can't stop Navalny from being "murdered in front of the world," but they can honor his courage by inflicting a heavy price on Vladimir Putin.