White House: Russia will be punished if Navalny dies in custody


The Russian government will face consequences if Alexei Navalny dies in custody, the White House said Monday, as the opposition leader was transferred to a hospital for prisoners amid his hunger strike.

“We continue to reiterate our view that what happens to Mr. Navalny in the custody of the Russian government is the responsibility of the Russian government and they will be held accountable,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “In the interim, our objective is, of course, continuing to call for, push for his release and reiterate our view that he must be treated humanely.”

Ms. Psaki said Mr. Biden raised the treatment of Mr. Navalny in his first conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. She also pointed to administration officials who previously threatened consequences if something happens to the outspoken prisoner.

Mr. Navalny, an outspoken Putin critic, was arrested in January after he returned from his monthslong recovery in Germany from a nerve-agent attack that he blamed on the Kremlin.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan plans to speak to his Russian counterpart Monday, according to Ms. Psaki.

“That, of course, will cover a range of topics but certainly the detention and treatment of Navalny will be a part of that,” she said.

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