US Intelligence Says Putin Didn’t Order Opposition Leader Navalny’s Death

The US intelligence community has determined that it is unlikely that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the death of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

A source familiar with the matter said while Putin may be ultimately responsible for Navalny’s death in a Russian penal colony in February, the intelligence community found “no smoking gun” suggesting that Putin was even aware of the timing, let alone ordered Navalny’s death.

In remarks responding to the news of the opposition leader’s death, President Biden suggested that Putin was responsible but did not go so far as to accuse him of ordering it.

Biden said while the US did not know the details of what occurred, there was “no doubt” that Navalny’s death “was the consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did.”

The 47-year-old opposition leader died unexpectedly at a penal colony north of the Arctic Circle on February 16, where he was serving a sentence of 19 years for charges of extremism.

Navalny was imprisoned in January 2021, shortly after he returned from Germany following his recovery from nerve agent poisoning which he blamed on Moscow.

Kremlin officials strenuously denied poisoning Navalny in 2020.

Moscow claimed that Navalny died of natural causes and denied any involvement in his death.

When asked about the US intel community’s determination during a press briefing on Saturday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he was aware of the reports, which he claimed were based on “empty speculation.”

Peskov said that having “seen the material,” he would not describe it as “high-quality” or deserving much attention.

In March, President Putin described Navalny’s death as “sad,” and claimed that he had been prepared to release the opposition leader to the West as part of a prisoner exchange as long as Navalny agreed never to step foot in Russia again.

Senior Navalny aid Leonid Volkov dismissed the US intel findings as ridiculous and naïve.