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Biden meets with Navalny family in California, pledges sanctions against Putin

By Kevin Liptak and Michael Williams, CNN

(CNN) — President Joe Biden met Thursday with the wife and daughter of the late Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, the White House said, as the president prepares to levy additional sanctions against Russia.

After the meeting, Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin himself will be sanctioned.

“I had the honor of meeting with his wife and daughter and, to state the obvious, he was a man of incredible courage,” Biden told reporters of Navalny. “We’re gonna be announcing sanctions against Putin, who is responsible for his death, tomorrow.”

Biden said it was clear from the meeting that Navalny’s wife would “continue to fight.”

“We’re not letting up,” he said.

The meeting occurred in California, where Biden is traveling for political fundraisers. Dasha Navalnaya, Navalny’s daughter, is a student at Stanford University.

In a statement, the White House said Biden “expressed his admiration for Aleksey Navalny’s extraordinary courage and his legacy of fighting against corruption and for a free and democratic Russia in which the rule of law applies equally to everyone.”

Biden “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.”

The meeting with Yulia and Dasha Navalnaya came a day ahead of an expected new round of US sanctions on Russia, in part for Navalny’s death.

Biden, in his meeting, “affirmed that his Administration will announce major new sanctions against Russia tomorrow in response to Aleksey’s death, Russia’s repression and aggression, and its brutal and illegal war in Ukraine.”

According to a Treasury official, the Biden administration will impose new sanctions on more than 500 targets on Friday in response to Navalny’s death and on the eve of Russia’s two-year war in Ukraine.

US officials had been working on a fresh sanctions package on Russia ahead of the opposition leader’s death and supplemented them in the wake of his passing, according to a senior US official. Reuters first reported the number of targets to be sanctioned.

Navalny’s death, announced last Friday by the Russian prison service, spurred international outrage at Putin. Navalny is the latest in a series of Putin critics to die under mysterious circumstances.

Shortly after Navalny’s death was reported, Biden placed the blame directly at Putin’s feet.

“The fact of the matter is: Putin is responsible, whether he ordered it or he is responsible for the circumstances he put that man in,” Biden told reporters on Monday. “And he’s – it’s a reflection of who he is. And it just cannot be tolerated.”

Biden has also sharply criticized the response to Navalny’s death from his likely 2024 rival, former President Donald Trump. In his first public comment on Navalny’s death, Trump posted a message to social media that compared his own legal troubles to what Navalny faced. Trump did not mention Putin in his message and has recently said he would encourage Russia to have its way with NATO member countries who did not uphold funding obligations.

“He’s comparing himself to Navalny and saying that because our country’s become a communist country, he was persecuted, just like Navalny was persecuted,” Biden said during a Wednesday fundraiser of Trump’s comments. “Where the hell does this comes from?”

At the same fundraiser, Biden referred to Putin as a “crazy SOB.” The Kremlin in turn said Biden’s comments were a “huge disgrace” for the United States.

Navalny was Russia’s highest-profile opposition leader who spent years criticizing Putin at great personal risk.

In 2020, Navanly was poisoned by with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. He spent months in Germany recovering from the poisoning before returning to Russia in 2021. He was arrested upon arriving in Russia.

Navalny was serving a 19-year prison sentence after being found guilty in August of creating an extremist community, financing extremist activists and various other crimes. He was already serving sentences of 11-and-a-half years in a maximum security facility on fraud and other changes he denies.

He spent his final weeks at the IK-3 penal colony in Kharp, known as “Polar Wolf,” where he described “freezing” conditions prior to his death.

The Russian prison service reported Navalny “felt unwell after a walk” in his Siberian penal colony and “almost immediately” lost consciousness.

Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, said she saw her son’s body in a Siberian morgue on Wednesday.

A medical report attributed the cause of 47-year-old Navalny’s death to natural causes, Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said on X.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Sam Fossum and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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