It means much. It means that Vladimir Putin is an arrogant barbarian with no regard for civility or humanity. It means that Russia considers the West feckless. It should be a wake up call for America anc Europe. It removes any illusions that Putin is yet another leader of a country that we simply do not understand. It confirms that Russia and democratic America and Europe are at the crossroads of a conflagration unless we address this problem now.


The death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is significant because Navalny was the leading opponent to Russia’s and Putin’s regime even though he was thousands of miles away from Moscow in the Arctic Circle in a prison camp. He was not a threat to Putin’s presidential ambitions. In essence had he languished in the Russian prisons, he would have become irrelevant after a while. There was no way that the Kremlin would release him. He would have died eventually. Why did Putin kill him? Simply because he decided that he wanted to.


Three days before his demise, Navalny’s mother met with him and later posthumously stressed that he was well and in good spirits. On the day before  his death, he appeared before some Russian facsimile of a court  and actually  joked and ridiculed the judicial system. His immediate death was not anticipated. Yet Vladimir Putin decided to kill him on the eve of an upcoming presidential election, a farce in Russia and in the midst of fragile American resolve to help Ukraine.


For many Alexei Navalny is difficult to understand. He was a  man  safe in exile by virtue of the fact that he was a medical patient in the West after the Kremlin tried to poison him. He could have decided to stay relatively by Russian standards, safe  and become a leader of the opposition in Russia from exile. No, he decided that he had to die to make any significant difference in the Russia that he apparently loved and hoped to change .


Very few would have done what Navalny did. He went back to Russia, essentially in order to be killed.   There are few Navalnys in this world. To grasp the significance of his sacrifice, we need only to consider some alleged leaders in our own country: Tucker Carlson, Speaker Mike Johnson, former President Donald J. Trump.


A comparison of these individuals with Navalny would not be laughable, but disproportionate  only because there is nothing laughable about Navalny’s death. But this is what we have in America today: Carlson, Johnson and Trump.  All misplaced. Carlson has no business being a journalist. Johnson has none being the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of American and Donald J. Trump is an aberration as former president of the United States and a candidate once again for America’s highest office.


It is possible that Putin in his arrogance made a mistake. Thugs and strongmen do make mistakes. In democratic societies we seem to think that the other side is exact in its evil.  Putin has been emboldened recently by his poll numbers in a farcical  election where all opposition has been essentially eliminated and what appears to him to be America’s apparent betrayal of Ukraine with his friend looming in the near distance as America’s president.


Aside from the tragedy of a human death, there is a huge political component to Navalny’s death. Navalny because of who he was and his courage transcended simple humanity and  normal human demise. He was a symbol and may become a martyr to future generations, although Russian culture is almost impervious to anything good or decent.

There has been  a world reaction to Putin’s killing of Navalny. World leaders have expressed their opprobrium against Putin. They have clearly accused Putin of murder. Even Speaker Johnson has addressed the killing. There may and should be a tangible reaction.


And so let’s refrain from scoffing at people hiding fecklessness behind  religious zealotry like Mike Johnson who talk good Christianity and reverence to the Bible but are indifferent to their fellow human beings.  Give Speaker Johnson a chance to do what is right. He has spoken, but  the response from him should be putting the aid for Ukraine bill to a vote immediately. Mr.  Speaker Johnson, consult the Bible. You must know what is wrong and be able to find it in Scripture. Killing is wrong.


In the interim and because of American  fecklessness, another Ukrainian city has fallen, Avdiyivka.  An immediate and overwhelming vote in favour of military aid to Ukraine by the House should be our American response to Putin’s murder of Alexei Navalny. The best response to Putin’s and Russia’s killing machine is a military victory of democracy and good over evil in Ukraine.


Feb 18, 2024                                                       Askold Lozynskyj