Putin critics like Navalny need support from West, says Litvinenko's widow

By Isaac M February 20, 2024

The widow of former Russian Federal Security Service agent, Alexander Litvinenko, has said Vladimir Putin critics in Russia need support from the West.

Marina Litvinenko’s husband, a prominent Putin critic, died in 2006 after being poisoned in London with Polonium 210, a rare and very potent radioactive isotope.

The former FSB agent’s murder was suspected to have been personally signed off by Mr Putin, but Russia has always denied any involvement.

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Following the death of another critic of the Russian leader, Alexei Navalny, Mrs Litvinenko has said she cannot be silent.

Alexei Navalny looks at a camera while speaking from a prison via a video link in 2022
Pic: AP
Alexei Navalny in 2022. Pic: AP

‘You can’t expect anything else from Putin’

Calling Mr Putin a “monster”, Ms Litvinenko said she was “shocked” to hear the news of Mr Navalny’s death, but had “no doubt” the Russian president was responsible.

“You can’t expect anything else from Putin,” she said, speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News Breakfast.

When asked if she has any fear about speaking out against the Russian regime, she replied “I don’t”, adding that living in fear would be what Mr Putin wants.

FILE -  In this May 10, 2002 file photo, Alexander Litvinenko, Kremlin critic and author of the book "Blowing Up Russia: Terror From Within", poses for a photograph at his home in London. An inquest into the death of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko should take place early next year and will likely consider whether Russian authorities were involved, a senior British judge said Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Alistair Fuller, File)
Alexander Litvinenko died in 2006 after being poisoned. Pic: AP

“I am more thinking about people living in Russia, they have more dangerous lives, but they are still working on the outside,” she said.

“They are in need of support, and we are living here in the West, we need to support these people in Russia.

“We need to do everything to save the lives of these people, otherwise Putin’s regime will achieve its result.”

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When asked what Western governments should be doing to help political prisoners in Russia, Mrs Litvinenko said they need to ask whether sanctions against individuals and Russian organisations actually work.

“After sanctions, there will still be some companies that supply the Russian economy with very essential stuff that is used within the war [with Ukraine],” she said.

“And this is the big question, do sanctions work?”

Mr Navalny’s death was reported on Friday, and while the cause of death remains unknown, Western leaders have made clear they hold the Russian regime ultimately responsible.

The prison authorities claimed the opposition leader felt unwell and lost consciousness following a walk at a penal colony within the Arctic Circle.

Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, leaves the regional department of Russia's Investigative Committee in the town of Salekhard in the Yamal-Nenets Region, Russia February 17, 2024. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Pic: Reuters

Over the weekend, Mr Navalny’s allies struggled to locate his body and as of Monday, Russia’s investigative committee said a probe was continuing to take place and a cause of death was still unknown.

It comes after Kira Yarmysh, a spokesperson for Mr Navalny, said the politician’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, and a lawyer arrived at a morgue to see his body, but were not allowed to go in.

“One of the lawyers was literally pushed out. When the staff was asked if Alexey’s body was there, they did not answer,” she wrote on X.

Since Mr Navalny’s death was announced, 400 people have been detained across 32 Russian cities, according to rights group OVD-Info.

Protesters have been laying flowers and lighting candles at war memorials, while Russian embassies around the world, including in New York and California, have also paid tribute to the opposition leader.


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