Putin Did Not Order Alexei Navalny’s Death, US Intelligence Finds

In a surprising turn, The Wall Street Journal has issued a new weekend report saying that US intelligence agencies do not believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin planned or ordered the death of opposition activist and politician Alexei Navalny.

“U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that Putin likely didn’t order Navalny to be killed at the notoriously brutal prison camp in February, people familiar with the matter said, a finding that deepens the mystery about the circumstances of his death,”

“The assessment doesn’t dispute Putin’s culpability for Navalny’s death, but rather finds he probably didn’t order it at that moment,” WSJ continues. “The finding is broadly accepted within the intelligence community and shared by several agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the State Department’s intelligence unit, the people said.”

And yet it must be recalled that Western officials and media pundits alike had immediately upon reports of the 47-year old Navalny’s death rushed to declare that he had been ‘assassinated’ by Russian authorities upon Putin’s order.

This led to a new wave of US-led sanctions on Russia, and even disrupted momentum toward a hoped-for prisoner swap between Moscow and Kiev at the time.

President Biden had asserted in a statement issued on the very day of his Feb.16 death that “Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death” and that it was “proof of Putin’s Brutality” – but ultimately that the ‘democratic future’ Navalny believed in was worth “dying for” – according to the president’s words at the time.

Russian prison authorities had officially listed his demise as from “sudden death syndrome,” which is how natural causes such as heart attacks are typically described.

Navalny’s team is not happy with the fresh WSJ report which is being seen as essentially an exoneration of Putin:

In a statement to the Journal, Leonid Volkov, a longtime Navalny ally, rejected the U.S. intelligence assessment and said those who assert that Putin wasn’t aware of Navalny’s death “clearly do not understand anything about how modern day Russia runs.”

“The idea of Putin being not informed and not approving killing Navalny is ridiculous,” he said.

You will find more infographics at Statista

Below, journalist and geopolitical commentator Aaron Maté explains that despite news of Navalny’s life and death having driven world headlines, he was still largely an unknown within broader Russian politics and society especially on a national level [emphasis ZH].

Click Here To Read More


Zero Hedges

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