Trump breaks silence on Navalny, casts no blame on Putin

By Thomson Reuters Feb 19, 2024 | 7:42 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump, who drew criticism as U.S. president for his praise of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, made his first public comment on the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday in a cryptic social media post that cast no blame.

“The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country,” Trump wrote in a social media post that appeared to link the death to Trump’s own political troubles.

“It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction. Open Borders, Rigged Elections, and Grossly Unfair Courtroom Decisions are DESTROYING AMERICA. WE ARE A NATION IN DECLINE, A FAILING NATION! MAGA2024”

President Joe Biden on Friday directly blamed Putin for the death in a the penal colony north of the Arctic Circle, as did Trump’s main Republican rival, Nikki Haley. “Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” Biden said.

Former presidents and top members of Congress from both parties had also denounced Putin over the death of Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader since it was reported on Friday. But Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Biden in the November election, had remained silent until Monday.

During his 2017-2021 White House tenure, Trump expressed admiration for Putin.

Last week, he suggested the United States might not protect NATO allies who aren’t spending enough on defense from a potential Russian invasion.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Scott Malone and Nick Macfie)