Rubio Praises Late Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny

Rubio Praises Late Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
February 22, 2024

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny suddenly died in prison, with many believing he was murdered by the regime of Vladimir Putin. In an op-ed for Newsweek, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) praised Navalny as a courageous figure to his dying day, saying "Russia—and the world—are worse off without him."

Reuters reported on the circumstances of Navalny's sudden death in the "Polar Wolf" IK-3 penal colony above the Arctic Circle, considered one of Russia's worst prisons. Navalny supposedly was feeling "unwell" after a walk and lost consciousness, with his death confirmed at 2:17 PM on February 16th. Russian authorities said the cause of death was heart-related.

"I'm sure the Kremlin feels more secure with their chief domestic opponents gone and [opposition journalist Vladimir] Kara-Murza behind bars. But that just shows the weakness of authoritarian governments," wrote Sen. Rubio in his op-ed, saying Navalny's death and its ongoing war with Ukraine only demonstrate how the Putin regime is only interested in "their own self-preservation and self-aggrandizement."

At the same time, Sen. Rubio praised Navalny's personal courage to return to Russia after two assassination attempts, one in 2017 that nearly blinded him and a second in 2020 involving poison. Despite knowing his return could very well mean death, Navalny supposedly said he would deny Putin "the gift of not returning."

In 2022, Rubio met with Navalny's Chief of Staff Leonid Volkov, who told him about the conditions Navalny was forced to endure in the "Polar Wolf" prison and "Putin's use of digital technology to suppress free speech, and the systemic kleptocracy within Russia," as he described on X (formerly Twitter), which convinced the Florida Senator that "the Russian people's aspirations for freedom were alive and well."

Despite the inhumane conditions, Rubio described how Navalny kept his spirits up, mocking the judge and writing to his wife.

"I hope Navalny's example inspires many others, because we could use more people like him," Rubio concluded.

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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