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President Biden meets with Alexey Navalny's widow, daughter in San Francisco; "legacy will carry on"

Biden meets with Alexey Navalny's widow
Biden meets with Yulia Navalnaya, Alexey Navalny's widow, in California 08:47

President Joe Biden met in San Francisco Thursday with the widow and daughter of Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who died in a Russian penal colony under mysterious circumstances, and promised new sanctions against Russia in response to his death.

The White House said Mr. Biden met Yulia Navalnaya and Dasha Navalnaya, a student at Stanford University, "to express his heartfelt condolences for their terrible loss following the death of Aleksey Navalny in a Russian prison."

The readout from the White House continued, "The President expressed his admiration for Aleksey Navalny's extraordinary courage and his legacy of fighting against corruption and for a free and democratic Russia in which the rule of law applies equally to everyone. The President emphasized that Aleksey's legacy will carry on through people across Russia and around the world mourning his loss and fighting for freedom, democracy, and human rights. He affirmed that his Administration will announce major new sanctions against Russia tomorrow in response to Aleksey's death, Russia's repression and aggression, and its brutal and illegal war in Ukraine."

Yulia Navalnaya, speaks as she meets with Belgium's foreign minister in Brussels on Feb. 19, 2024.
Yulia Navalnaya speaks as she meets with Belgium's foreign minister in Brussels on Feb. 19, 2024. Yves Herman / AP

Navalnaya has promised to continue her husband's resistance and vowed that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies would be brought to justice over his death. Earlier this week she said Russian officials denied access to her husband's body and that the official probe into his death was being extended.

Navalnaya, who lives in exile outside Russia, accused Russian authorities of "lying miserably while waiting for the trace of another Putin's Novichok to disappear," referring to a poison allegedly used by Russian security services in at least one previous politically motivated assassination attempt.

Biden arrived in the Bay Area Wednesday on a fundraising trip following a visit to Los Angeles. At one of the San Francisco fundraisers Wednesday, Biden criticized former President Donald Trump's comments likening his legal troubles to the treatment Navalny received leading up to his suspicious death.

Biden also lamented the influence Trump holds over the Republican Party, saying the GOP once had an "American moral center, but that seems to be lost." But he saved his most pointed remarks for the Russian leader.

"We have a crazy SOB like Putin and others, and we always have to worry about nuclear conflict, but the existential threat to humanity is climate," he said.

Biden has blamed Putin for Navalny's death, saying the U.S. wasn't sure what exactly happened, but that it was "a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did." 

Also on Thursday, Navalny's mother said that she has seen her son's body after filing a lawsuit contesting Russian officials' refusal to release the body.  

Lyudmila Navalnaya said in a video statement that she is resisting pressure from authorities to agree to a secret burial outside the public eye. 

"They are blackmailing me, they are setting conditions where, when and how my son should be buried," she said. "They want it to do it secretly without a mourning ceremony."

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