Navalny’s wife should keep his voice alive, Litvinenko widow says

By Thomson Reuters Feb 17, 2024 | 1:08 PM

LONDON (Reuters) – The wife of Alexei Navalny, Yulia Navalnaya, needs to keep her husband’s voice alive, the widow of Alexander Litvinenko said on Saturday following the death of the prominent Kremlin critic.

Russian authorities said 47-year-old Navalny fell unconscious and died on Friday after a walk at the “Polar Wolf” Arctic penal colony where he was serving a long sentence.

Soon after the news broke, Yulia Navalnaya spoke to leaders at a Western security gathering in Munich, blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for her husband’s death and calling for Putin and his government to be held accountable.

“Yulia Navalnaya did very right things because her husband Alexei was so well known in Russia and abroad and she needs to keep his voice alive and she is now his voice,” Marina Litvinenko told Reuters.

Marina Litvinenko’s late husband Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer and defector who had become a vocal critic of the Kremlin, died in 2006 three weeks after drinking green tea laced with polonium-210 at a London hotel. The European Court of Human Rights found in 2021 that Russia was responsible for the assassination.

Litvinenko said she was shocked by the news of Navalny’s death. She said she had had a “very tiny hope” that Navalny might have been able to emerge from prison and start his political career if Putin’s rule collapsed.

“International community has to be more strong and not make only good words to say how they regret and sympathise to Navalny family, but making real action,” Litvinenko said.

Many Western leaders expressed outrage over Navalny’s death, in what Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called an unacceptable response. British foreign minister David Cameron said Britain would take action over Navalny’s death, although he did not say what such action would entail.

In Russia, at least 340 people have been detained at small events across 30 cities since Navalny’s death, according to a Russian rights group.

“When we see even tiny protest, even tiny reaction to death of Alexei Navalny, I think it’s very serious. We still have people who are not brainwashed,” Litvinenko said.

(Reporting by Kristian Brunse; Writing by Farouq Suleiman; Editing by Frances Kerry)