Navalnaya Warns Of Putin’s Willingness To Strike In Europe

By RFE/RL April 21, 2024

The exiled widow of the late Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has said “nobody knows” what to expect from Russian President Vladimir Putin and warned that the revanchist Kremlin leader could use nuclear weapons if he felt the need.

Yulia Navalnaya, who has pledged to maintain pressure on Putin since her husband died in an Arctic prison in February, told dpa news agency in statements published on April 21 when asked if she thought he would balk at the use of nucear weapons that “we don’t know what to expect from [Putin].”

“He probably would do it,” she added.

Navalnaya used recent spy scandals and arrests in Germany and Poland to argue that Putin has been conducting a war in the heart of Europe for years.

“Putin did not just start,” she said. “He has been doing this all along.”

Navalny, 47, died on February 16 in unclear circumstances in an Arctic prison where he was serving a 19-year term on extremism and other charges widely seen as politically motivated.

His death under unclear circumstances was called a murder by Navalnaya and his supporters despite the official death certificate saying Navalny died of natural causes.

U.S. President Joe Biden and other Western leaders have accused Moscow of killing its most feared domestic critic, who had survived multiple poisonings that he blamed on Putin.

Investigators in Russia’s Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region on April 9 extended the term of the preliminary investigation into Navalny’s death until at least April 20.

Navalny began writing a memoir four years ago that will go on sale later this year in what publisher Alfred A. Knopf says is his “final letter to the world.”

But Navalnaya, who lives with their children in exile, has urged the world to withdraw recognition of Putin as Russia’s “legitimate” president and has vowed to continue the effort to unseat him.

Putin was declared the winner with 87 percent of the vote in an election to a fifth presidential term after officials disqualified his only serious critic and with an intensified crackdown on the media and dissent continuing with Russia on a war footing.

Citing the unpredictability of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Navalnaya said it was impossible to know where Putin might try to strike next. “He frightens people, keeps them in fear. Nobody knows what Putin is going to do next.”

Three people, two Poles and a Belarusian national, were detained this month in Poland for alleged involvement in a vicious attack with a hammer in Lithuania in March on the former director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, Leonid Volkov.

Last week, two German-Russian dual nationals were detained after they were suspected of looking for possible areas for sabotage in Germany.

Polish security officials detained a suspect they accused of trying to help Russian intelligence plan an assassination attempt on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Navalnaya predicted that Russian opposition to the war would increase if, as some suspect, Putin is preparing a new wave of mobilization for the war in Ukraine.

“There are many anti-war activists and anti-Putin activists,” she told dpa. “They need to hear the support from the West.”

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/navalnaya-warns-of-putin-s- willingness-to-strike-in-europe/32914344.html

Copyright (c) 2024. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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John Pike