Smirking Vladimir Putin seen for first time since arch enemy Alexei Navalny dies while 'going for a walk' in prison

16 February 2024, 17:00 | Updated: 16 February 2024, 22:08

Smirking Vladimir Putin (l) seen meeting power plant workers hours after it emerged Alexei Navalny (r) had died in prison
Smirking Vladimir Putin (l) seen meeting power plant workers hours after it emerged Alexei Navalny (r) had died in prison. Picture: Getty

By StephenRigley

Vladimir Putin has been seen smirking on a visit in Russia as Kremlin foes lined up to accuse the regime of murdering his number one enemy Alexei Navalny.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The grinning tyrant brushed off the world's condemnation of Navalny's death as he met workers at a power plant.

Earlier, Navalny's wife became the latest world figure to say Putin should be held responsible for the arch-critics death.

Yulia Navalnaya said that Putin would "soon" be held "liable" for the death of Navalny, a longstanding critic of the regime, who collapsed after "going for a walk" in custody on Friday aged 47.

The circumstances of his death remain unclear, and Navalnaya said she wasn't even certain that he had died, given the unreliable nature of the information given by the Kremlin.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, she said, Navalnaya said: "Thank you for the conference organisers that gave me the main stage. You have all probably seen the terrible news that came in today.

Yulia Navalnaya
Yulia Navalnaya. Picture: Getty

Read more: 'Murdered by Putin': Kremlin arch-enemy Alexei Navalny dies after 'going for a walk' in freezing Russian prison

Read more: Vladimir Putin's main political rival Alexei Navalny 'disappears from prison'

"I thought for a long time: 'Is it worth me to come here or to fly to my children straight away?' But then I thought: 'What would Alexei do in my place?' And I'm confident that he would be here, he would be on this stage," she said.

"I don't know whether to believe the news, the terrible news that we are receiving only from the state sources in Russia," she said, adding that Putin and his government are "always lying".

"But if this is true, I would like that Putin and all his coterie, Putin's friends, his government to know that they will be accountable for what they've done to our country, to my family, and to my husband.

"They will be liable for that. That day will come very soon."

Alexei Navalny died in prison
Alexei Navalny died in prison. Picture: Getty

She also called for the world's leaders to focus on defeating Putin's "evil" regime.

Navalnaya said: "I would like to call upon the global community, everyone in this room, people around the world, that we would unite together and overcome that evil, overcome that terrible regime that is currently in Russia.

"That regime and Vladimir Putin have to be personally liable for all the horrible things they are doing to my country, to our country Russia in the last years."

Navalny died on Friday after "going for a walk" in his prison colony, in the Arctic Yamalo-Nenets region of Russia.

His cause of death has not been confirmed, but Russian outlets reported that he suffered a detached blood clot.

Navalny's mother Lyudmila said that her son had appeared well on Monday, the last time she saw him.

She wrote on Facebook: "I don't want to hear any condolences. We saw him in prison on the (February) 12, in a meeting. He was alive, healthy and happy."

Putin on Friday
Putin on Friday. Picture: Getty

Navalny had suffered a series of attacks on his health in recent years.

He was poisoned with Novichok in 2020, and went to Germany for urgent treatment.

On his return to Russia in 2021, he was jailed for violating parole conditions for a 2014 prison sentence, which was widely condemned as a political charge.

He claimed he was being tortured in prison, and his staff said he had been placed in isolation 27 times over a total of 308 days - the latest instance of which was on Wednesday.

He disappeared for several weeks late last year, before reappearing in his Arctic prison.

Sunak pays tribute after death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

Kremlin critics and Western politicians blamed Putin for his death after the news emerged on Friday morning.

Bill Browder told LBC: "Alexei Navalny was one of the most courageous people in Russia.

“He was ready to call out Putin for who he is which is A criminal, a thief and a murderer.

“For that Putin tried to kill him with chemical nerve agent Novichok in 2020. Here we are in 2024 and they got him.

“He was an extremely healthy vital young man before the poisoning attempt. It’s obvious to me that Alexei Navalny was killed by Putin.”

Mr Browder said later: "Let's make no mistake, Putin assassinated Alexei Navalny. He did so because Alexei Navalny was brave enough to stand up to Putin.   

Watch Again: James O'Brien and Bill Browder on Alexei Navalny's death | 16/02/24

"He did so because Navalny offered the Russian people an alternative to kleptocracy and repression. This is a tragic day for Navalny and his family, but also for Russia and the hope for a better future."

Responding to the news, former oligarch and Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky said: "If this is true, then, regardless of the formal reason, Vladimir Putin personally bears responsibility for his premature death.

Khodorkovsky said that it was Putin that “first authorised the poisoning of Alexei and then put him in prison”.

The EU also blamed the Kremlin for Navalny's death.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: "Putin fears nothing more than dissent from his own people. The world has lost a freedom fighter in Alexei Navalny.

"We will honor his name. And in his name we will stand up for democracy and our values."

Alexei Navalny was an outspoken critic of the Kremlin
Alexei Navalny was an outspoken critic of the Kremlin. Picture: Getty

European Council president Charles Michel said that he "fought for the values of freedom and democracy. For his ideals, he made the ultimate sacrifice."

He added: "The EU holds the Russian regime for sole responsible for this tragic death. I extend my deepest condolences to his family. And to those who fight for democracy around the world in the darkest conditions.

"Fighters die. But the fight for freedom never ends."

Putin on Friday
Putin on Friday. Picture: Getty

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the death as "terrible news", adding: "As the fiercest advocate for Russian democracy, Alexei Navalny demonstrated incredible courage throughout his life."

Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Vladimir Putin "should be accountable for what has happened".

Lord Cameron said: "Navalny fought bravely against corruption. Putin's Russia fabricated charges against him, poisoned him, sent him to an arctic penal colony & now he has tragically died.

"Putin should be accountable for what has happened - no one should doubt the dreadful nature of his regime."

People gather to lay flowers paying their last respect to Alexei Navalny at the at the Wall of Sorrow memorial to victims of political repression in Moscow
People gather to lay flowers paying their last respect to Alexei Navalny at the at the Wall of Sorrow memorial to victims of political repression in Moscow. Picture: Alamy

Former PM Boris Johnson said that Alexei Navalny had been "put to death" by Vladimir Putin.

In a post on X, Mr Johnson said: "No one can be in any doubt that Alexei Navalny has been put to death by Vladimir Putin - simply because he had the courage to oppose the Russian tyrant.

"With this murder Putin plunges new depths of depravity and drags his country further into the darkness."

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said "it is obvious that he was killed by Putin".

"Putin doesn't care who dies - only for him to hold his position," Mr Zelenskyy said.

"This is why he must hold onto nothing. Putin must lose everything and be held responsible for his deeds."

The Foreign Office said in a statement that it had summoned the Russian Embassy.

A spokesperson said: "Alexei Navalny dedicated his life to exposing the corruption of the Russian system, calling for free and open politics, and holding the Kremlin to account.

"We stand today with his family, friends, colleagues and supporters. Our thoughts go out to them.

"The Russian authorities saw Mr Navalny as a threat. Many Russian citizens felt he gave them a voice.

"In recent years, the authorities imprisoned him on fabricated charges, poisoned him with a banned nerve agent, and sent him to an Arctic penal colony. No-one should doubt the brutal nature of the Russian system. His death must be investigated fully and transparently.

"The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office today summoned the Russian Embassy to make clear that we hold the Russian authorities fully responsible.

"Mr Navalny was a man of great courage and iron will. Even from his prison cell, he continued to speak up for the rights of the Russian people. His dedication to human rights and exposing corruption was an inspiration to millions. The ideals for which he stood and died will live forever."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Dario G star Paul Spencer

Dario G star Paul Spencer dies aged 53 following cancer diagnosis

Reform chairman Richard Tice was speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr.

'Take them back to France': Reform will have 'standoff' with French over illegal migrants if needed, says Richard Tice

The teen was helping cut the tree down as a summer job.

Pictured: Boy, 16, crushed by 30ft tree just a day after finishing final GCSE exam - as three arrested

Police hunt 21-year-old man following death of boy, 12 in shocking hit-and-run

Manhunt for Coventry hit-and-run suspect continues following death of boy, 12, as police urge public to 'do the right thing'

Parts of the UK face severe rainfall next week, dramatic weather maps suggest

Thunderstorms set to drench Britain with 10 days worth of rain failing in just three hours

Fury erupted after the cow was rammed by a police car

Let us not be hypocrites when we look at the shocking case of the runaway cow

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

Prince William seen at a procession for the annual Garter Day service

William beams during Order of the Garter procession as royals join King and Queen at Windsor Castle

The parkour runner damaged the UNESCO World Heritage Site building in Italy in a parkour stunt

Shocking footage captures parkour runner damaging UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy

Defendant Josef Fritzl, center, is escorted to the fourth day of his trial in the provincial courthouse in St. Poelten, Austria, Thursday, March 19, 2009.

Incest monster Josef Fritzl placed under legal guardianship amid worsening dementia

Rod Stewart (pictured on stage in Copenhagen on Sunday June 9) was booed by German fans for supporting Ukraine

Rod Stewart defends show of support for Ukraine after booing at Germany concert

Police officer found guilty of gross misconduct after joyrider killed child actor and aunt in 60mph pursuit

Police officer found guilty of gross misconduct after joyrider killed child actor and aunt in 60mph pursuit

Mugshot of McNaughton, left, and smiling photo or Mr Coshan, right

Catfisher jailed for life after murdering retired teacher he 'lured' to flat using fake profile on gay dating site

Keir Starmer said he was "really shocked" at the footage

'Shocked' Keir Starmer accuses police of 'animal cruelty' after runaway cow rammed five times with squad car

The OceanGate submersible has five people on board

Poignant CGI shows how deep doomed Titan descended on it's ill-fated final journey to the Titanic wreck

Nigel Farage vows to fix 'broken Britain' as he launches Reform UK election 'contract'

Nigel Farage vows to fix 'broken Britain' as he launches Reform UK election 'contract'