White House promises action if Russian opposition leader dies behind bars: Reports

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was tossed into a Russian prison in January after returning from a trip to Germany where he was recovering from an alleged nerve agent poisoning that he claims was carried out by the Kremlin, is said to currently be on his death bed from a self-induced hunger strike.

According to Just the News, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan made clear over the weekend during a CNN interview that if Navalny ends up dying in a Russian prison, there will most certainly be consequences.

Vow to take action

Sullivan reportedly explained that the United States was in agreement with many in the international community in leveling sanctions against Russia for its involvement in deploying a banned chemical weapon against Navalny, which is what allegedly made him deathly ill in the first place.

“Second, we have communicated to the Russian government that what happens to Mr. Navalny in their custody is their responsibility and they will be held accountable by the international community,” Sullivan said, according to Just the News.

“We have communicated that there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies,” he added.

According to the Associated Press, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki echoed Sullivan’s statements, saying Navalny “must be treated humanely” and renewing calls for his immediate release.

Why a hunger strike?

According to Russian opposition press secretary Kira Yarmysh, Navalny has only a matter of “days” before he succumbs to his hunger strike. He’s said to have been starving himself since March 31.

USA Today reports that Navalny initiated the strike in protest of the poor treatment he claims he’s been subjected to by Russian prison guards.

Yaroslav Ashikhmin, a physician for Navalny — in a support capacity — issued dire news about the prisoner’s health, reportedly saying, “Our patient could die at any moment.” Navalny’s family, including his 20-year-old daughter, is said to have pleaded with Russian officials to let a doctor visit her dad before it’s too late.

Protests on the horizon

Though Navalny’s initial arrest sparked widespread protests across Russia, given the circumstances of his health, his allies are in the planning stages of what they hope to be some of the largest protests to date in the coming days and weeks.

“Things are developing too quickly and too badly,” a pro-Navalny group wrote in a statement on a website tracking the opposition leader’s condition, according to USA Today. “We can no longer wait and postpone. An extreme situation demands extreme decisions.”

Only time will tell how the situation escalates, but if Navalny ultimately dies as a result of his current condition, it seems Russia will not only be dealing with internal strife, but potentially harsh retaliation from the United States.

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