'Putin is responsible' President Biden says after Alexei Navalny reported dead

The Russian Prison service reportedly confirmed the opposition politician died in the 'Polar Wolf' jail - regarded as one of the toughest prisons in the country

US President Joe Biden has said he holds Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible after the Russian prison service announced that opposition leader and jailed activist Alexey Navalny had died.

"Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny's death," Biden said, during a press conference on Friday.

"Putin does not only target citizens of other countries, as we've seen in what's going on in Ukraine right now - he also inflicts terrible crimes on his own people," the US president added.

Biden said he was "outraged" by the news and described Mr Navalny as a "powerful voice for truth" even in prison.

It comes after a statement from the Federal Prison Service which claimed Mr Navalny felt unwell after a walk on Friday and lost consciousness.

It said an ambulance arrived to try to rehabilitate him, but he died.

State news agency TASS said medics had tried to resuscitate Mr Navalny for more than half an hour.

Alexei Navalny's mother then confirmed his death via a spokesperson on Saturday.

Yulia Navalnaya, wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, reacts as she speaks during the Munich Security Conference. Credit: AP

Mr Navalny's wife, Yulia, took to the stage at the Munich Security Council just hours after reports of her husband's death.

In what appeared to be an unscheduled speech at the event, she called on "the international community to unite and defeat this evil."

"I don't know whether to believe or not this terrible news that we only receive from Russian government sources.

"For many years we cannot trust Putin and the Putin government. They always lie."

She added: "But if this is true, I want Putin and everyone around him to know that they will be held accountable for everything they did to our country, to my family. And this day will come very soon.

"I want to call on the international community and all people to unite and defeat this evil."

In the 2022 film "Navalny," which documented the late Russian opposition leader poisoning, he delivered his message to the country's people if he were to be killed.

“My message for the situation when I am killed is very simple: not give up,” Mr Navalny said in English.

Switching to Russian, he added: "If they decide to kill me, it means that we are incredibly strong. We need to utilize this power, to not give up, to remember we are a huge power that is being oppressed by these bad dudes."

Mr Navalny's message for the Russian people if he were to be killed

The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, became friends with Mr Navalny years ago during a fellowship programme at Yale University.

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Rees said his legacy will live on and that the real loss is to that of his family.

"His legacy is that he is a person that identified wrongs in his country being led by the president and said I'm not going to stand for this and put in the public domain so it doesn't happen in secret, that will always be there," he said.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, was a friend of Mr Navalny and told ITV News he hopes Putin will be held accountable for his death

Writing on X, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the 47-year-old's death was a "huge tragedy."

He wrote: "This is terrible news. As the fiercest advocate for Russian democracy, Alexei Navalny demonstrated incredible courage throughout his life."My thoughts are with his wife and the people of Russia, for whom this is a huge tragedy."

Lord David Cameron said there should be “consequences” for Vladimir Putin as he blamed Mr Navalny’s death on the “action that Putin’s Russia took”.

The foreign secretary described him as "an incredibly brave fighter against corruption", adding that "he gave up everything in campaigning for what he believed in, and my heart goes out to his wife and to his family".

“We should be clear about what has happened here," added Lord Cameron. "Putin’s Russia imprisoned him, trumped up charges against him, poisoned him, sent him to an Arctic penal colony and now he’s tragically died.

“We should hold Putin accountable for this, and no one should be in any doubt about the dreadful nature of Putin’s regime in Russia after what has just happened.”

“It is obvious that he was killed by Putin,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was visiting Germany as he sought aid for his country as it fights off an invasion by Russia.

“Putin doesn’t care who dies - only for him to hold his position. This is why he must hold onto nothing. Putin must lose everything and be held responsible for his deeds,” Zelenskyy added.

A statement that was doubled down on by anti-Vladimir Putin campaigner Bill Browder who announced: “Let’s make no mistake, Putin assassinated Alexei Navalny.

“He did so because Alexei Navalny was brave enough to stand up to Putin.

“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.”

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears via a video link from the Arctic penal colony back in January. Credit: AP

He was last seen alive via video link during a court hearing, which his team released an image of on Thursday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin was informed of Navalny’s death.

Mr Navalny has been serving a 19-year prison sentence on charges of extremism.

He was moved in December from his original prison to a penal colony - the highest security level of prison in Russia - above the Arctic Circle.

He was originally jailed in January 2021 when he returned to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.

Before his arrest, he campaigned against official corruption, organised major anti-Kremlin protests and ran to be mayor of Moscow.

He had since received three prison sentences, all of which he rejected as politically motivated.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...