Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Statement regarding Alexei Navalny’s murder

February 17, 2024

Vladimir Putin has murdered Alexei Navalny.  This is the reality, irrespective of the actual cause of death.  Alexei Navalny was first poisoned, and later arrested and locked up in prison, where he was held in torture conditions.

Putin murdered Navalny because Navalny was a charismatic, courageous, and strong politician.  And he remained a very serious threat to authoritarian power even in prison conditions.

The tragic and untimely death of Alexei Navalny in a remote prison colony beyond the Arctic Circle once again raises the question of Putin’s legitimacy in international relations.  “Presidential elections” are going to take place in Russia on 17 March.  Even now it is understood that Vladimir Putin will be declared the victor.

The international community and the leaders of democratic countries must not – do not have the moral right to – recognize as the legitimate president of Russia a person for whom the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for the forcible deportation of Ukrainian children, a person who is going to be conducting his own elections on illegally occupied Ukrainian land, a person who murdered his personal political adversary right before the elections.

I have called on all democratically minded citizens of Russia to come to the polling stations and write in Alexei Navalny’s name on their ballots.  This will be a tribute to Alexei’s memory.  But it will also be a challenge to Putin.  He can kill his opponent, but he cannot kill the opposition.

I likewise call upon all leaders of democratic countries not to be in a hurry to recognize Putin as the legitimate president after the elections of 17 March.  There were plenty of reasons for this before as well.  But now, after the murder of Alexei Navalny, this simply must not be done.

Putin is consistently demonstrating disdain for human lives, both inside the country and beyond its confines.  This is a person with whom no negotiated settlement is possible.  He will remain to his last days in power an unceasing threat to peace in the world, to the law, and to humanity.

Watch the video with English subtitles here: