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US to Sanction Russia for Death of Putin Rival Who Left Atheism to Follow Christ 

02-21-2024
A portrait of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny between flowers at the Russian embassy in Berlin, Feb. 21, 2024  (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A portrait of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny between flowers at the Russian embassy in Berlin, Feb. 21, 2024 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

The Biden administration is pledging to hold Russia accountable for the untimely death of Vladimir Putin's chief political rival, Alexei Navalny. The administration announced it will unveil "major sanctions" against Russia on Friday.

The UK has already imposed sanctions against the officials leading the Russian penal colony where the 47-year-old opposition leader died suddenly. 

European Union countries have also agreed on a new package of sanctions against Russia, targeting individuals and businesses suspected of helping Moscow in its war against Ukraine, including Chinese companies.

Navalny's wife and mother have been calling on Putin to release his body. But morgue officials say they won't turn over his remains for at least two weeks, pending an examination.

Navalny's wife, Yulia, believes he was poisoned and that Putin is responsible. Navalny had been previously poisoned after protesting corruption in the Putin regime, and he barely survived at the time. 

His unexpected death occurred as he was being jailed as a political prisoner in a very harsh winter climate in northern Russia. The UK Foreign Office says Navalny was denied medical treatment and was forced to walk in temperatures dropping to minus 26 degrees Fahrenheit.

“It’s clear that the Russian authorities saw Navalny as a threat and they tried repeatedly to silence him," Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Navalny's supporters are recalling his courage and his faith. 

During his trial in 2021, Navalny said, "The fact is that I am a Christian…I was once quite a militant atheist myself…but now I am a believer."

He also quoted Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount:  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied."

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