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Biden meets with Navalny’s widow and daughter after dissident’s death

SAN FRANCISCO — President Biden met with the widow and daughter of the deceased Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Thursday, expressing his condolences and reiterating a pledge to issue new sanctions against Russia on Friday.

Biden posted a photo of himself meeting with Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, and daughter, Dasha Navalnaya, on social media.

Navalny’s death last week at age 47, after years of criticizing Moscow’s corruption and repression, eliminated the most popular figure inside Russia willing to publicly challenge President Vladimir Putin. It was significant blow to Russia’s beleaguered opposition, and Western leaders denounced it as the latest example of Putin’s brutality.

Biden has said Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death, given his long custody in Russia’s penal system. On Thursday, Biden wrote on social media that Navalny’s “legacy of courage will live on in Yulia and Dasha, and the countless people across Russia fighting for democracy and human rights.”

A White House statement said Biden met with the two women “to express his heartfelt condolences for their terrible loss following the death of Aleksey Navalny in a Russian prison.”

It added, “The President emphasized that Aleksey’s legacy will carry on through people across Russia and around the world mourning his loss and fighting for freedom, democracy, and human rights.”

Today, I met with Yulia and Dasha Navalnaya – Aleksey Navalny’s loved ones – to express my condolences for their devastating loss.

Aleksey’s legacy of courage will live on in Yulia and Dasha, and the countless people across Russia fighting for democracy and human rights.

— President Biden (@POTUS) February 22, 2024

Biden’s meeting with Navalny’s family members came amid his increasingly urgent push to persuade House Republicans to approve additional aid to Ukraine, which is fighting to repel a Russian invasion of its territory.

The Senate passed a $95 billion national security bill for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies in a bipartisan vote on Feb. 13, but House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) quickly announced he would not bring up such a bill in the chamber unless it included security measures at the U.S.-Mexico border. When senators recently reached a bipartisan compromise on a border measure to attach to the bill, Johnson rejected it as insufficient.

The president’s meeting with Yulia and Dasha Navalnaya was a way to highlight the Russian leader’s authoritarianism. After Navalny died, Biden called it “proof of Putin’s brutality.”

Biden has also been blasting former president Donald Trump, who leads in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, for his unwillingness to criticize Putin after Navalny’s death.

At a fundraiser in San Francisco on Wednesday, Biden criticized Trump for attempting to compare himself to Navalny by suggesting his legal troubles in the United States are akin to the persecution Navalny suffered in Russia.

“It’s a form of Navalny,” Trump said a Fox News town hall on Tuesday, responding to a question about a $355 million fine that was imposed on his businesses after a New York civil trial. “It’s happening in our country too.”

Biden reacted with incredulity at the comparison. “If I stood here 10 to 15 years ago and said all this, you’d all think I should be committed,” Biden told donors.

He also took aim at Putin in colorful language, suggesting that the leader is unhinged. While discussing climate change at a fundraiser in San Francisco on Wednesday, the president said, “We have a crazy SOB like Putin and others — and we always have to worry about nuclear conflict — but the existential threat to humanity is climate.”

The Kremlin responded by accusing Biden of “demonstrating Hollywood cowboy-style behavior to serve domestic political interests.”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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