Alexei Navalny – seen as a pro-democracy, transparency, anti-corruption Russian nationalist gadfly – died while on a walk in his Siberian prison. He was serving a long sentence, one the Biden administration raged about: the Russian judiciary had convicted him of several crimes including fraud, embezzlement, “inciting extremist activities” and “rehabilitating Nazi ideology.”
I’m sure Donald Trump can sense the irony.
Navalny’s recent incarceration in Siberia comes of the heels of a less reported imprisonment and death of an actual pro-democracy, transparency, anti-corruption US, UK, and Ukrainian gadfly – who died of untreated pneumonia in a Ukrainian prison. Gonzalo Lira, a 55-year-old American citizen, married father of two, was a journalist and commentator. He had been charged by Kiev, without a date or plan for a trial, with “justifying Russian aggression against Ukraine.” Lira was said to have violated Ukrainian criminal code, a code Lincoln, Wilson and FDR would have enthusiastically enforced.
Lira and Navalny criticized and annoyed certain governments. One did so as a politician, backed by several countries that, as a matter of policy, constantly call for regime change in Russia; the other criticized the Ukrainian government, for its US-pressed bombing the breakaway Donbass region, its refusal to abide by the Minsk Accords, its Nazi influences within the Army and government, and its efforts to join NATO. Lira also reported what he saw during the past few years of war – Kiev bleeding billions of Western dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, and displacing nearly half of its population, because, as a matter of policy circa 2024, Kiev and its US master, will not negotiate with Putin.
The United States government was involved in the fates of both of these men. Navalny received continual support, funding and media advocacy from the West, in hopes of regime change in Russia; as for Lira, he was a US citizen by birth (born in California) and as an American, was due legal and welfare advocacy from the US Embassy in Kiev. Instead of support, he was ridiculed on the front pages of mainstream media in the US for his eyewitness reporting from inside Ukraine, and received no financial or any other kind of support as he served as one of the few objective American voices watching and reporting on this expensive and destructive proxy campaign. The US embassy in Kiev is large and quite well staffed. Yet, the embassy said little, and did even less for Gonzalo Lira.
DC’s upside-down morality is on constant display, but with these accidental examples of two middle-aged men, both working to expose government wrongdoing, only one was spending millions of dollars with connections to many European and NATO leaders, and their intelligence agencies, as this video illustrates. Only one was celebrated in the West, to include his wife’s invitation and presence at the most recent “Davos of Defense” three day military conference, along with the US Vice President and key EU leadership. Only one was a “democratic hero.”
Some memorable lines, as reported by Reuters, on behalf of Navalny, are instructive:
Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, wrote, “I don’t want to hear any condolences. We saw him in prison on the (Feb) 12, in a meeting. He was alive, healthy and happy.” Clearly and predictably, she does not accept what is being reported. That Navalny seemed happy is important to note. From Lira’s distraught father, we have this: “I cannot accept the way my son has died. He was tortured, extorted, incommunicado for 8 months and 11 days and the US Embassy did nothing to help my son.”
Speaking to Reuters, Russian newspaper editor and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov called the death “murder” and said that he believed prison conditions had led to Navalny’s demise. In 2022, Muratov sold his Nobel Prize and gave the proceeds to UNICEF for their distribution in support of Ukrainian refugees. He stated that he would have rather the prize been given to Navalny. Similarly, friends and family of Gonzalo Lira also believe his death was murder. Lira was not only married to a Ukrainian, a father to Ukrainian citizens, he had repeatedly reported about the horrific conditions for and harm done to Ukrainians inside Ukraine, and in the meat grinder of battle. But somehow, there were no Nobels to auction, and no newspapers in the West were interested.
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, the man in charge of all US Embassies, extended his condolences to Navalny’s family. He said, “[Novalny’s] death in a Russian prison and the fixation and fear of one man only underscores the weakness and rot at the heart of the system that Putin has built. Russia is responsible for this.” Curiously, I can find nothing where Blinken addresses Lira’s repeated arrests, mistreatment, and eventual death at the hands of the Ukrainian government, and how hard he, as Secretary of State, tried to prevent it.
French President Macron noted “In today’s Russia, free spirits are put in the Gulag and sentenced to death.” I doubt Macron has even heard of Gonzalo Lira, but perhaps he did know of him. Gonzalo was a free spirit, a bold and brave spirit, and he was put into a Ukrainian gulag without a syllable of French outrage, poetic or otherwise.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, “I met Navalny here in Berlin when he was trying to recover in Germany from the poisoning attack and also talked to him about the great courage it takes to return to his country. And he has probably now paid for this courage with his life.” Scholz, who sacrificed his entire nation’s economy far into the future with his criminally silent assent of the US destruction of the Nordstream pipelines, among other things, should, for the sake of Germany, be making his commentary on courage from inside a German prison cell.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, tweeted “Like no one else, Alexei Navalny was a symbol for a free and democratic Russia. That is precisely the reason he had to die.” As a suspected CIA and/or MI-6 asset, Navalny’s death, as his life, continues to serve a Western agenda. One wonders if Annalena, noted for her accidental and sometimes embarrassing blurts of truth, did it again with this one.
Zelensky, speaking in the same Munich security conference this week, stated, “It is obvious: he was killed by Putin, as thousands of others were tortured and martyred by this one ‘creature’. Putin does not care who dies as long as he keeps his position. And that is why he should not keep anything. Putin should lose everything and answer for what he has done.” Given what we know about church banning, free speech, Nazi influences, suspension of both opposition political parties and elections in Ukraine under the US-backed Zelensky, he proves himself, once again, to be a tiresome narcissist, projecting malignantly.
EU Council President, Charles Michel, along with many heads of state in EU countries, rushed to hold Putin responsible for the death of Navalny. “Alexei Navalny fought for the values of freedom and democracy. For his ideals, he made the ultimate sacrifice. The EU holds the Russian regime solely responsible for this tragic death.” The dramatic language is almost Versailles in its absolutism.
EU President Ursula Von Der Leyen, tweeted the real import of this death. “A grim reminder of what Putin and his regime are all about. Let’s unite in our fight to safeguard the freedom and safety of those who dare to stand up against autocracy.” How about let’s all pray for a degree self awareness to dawn upon the EU ruling commission and the US imperial capitol – fighting against autocracy is indeed what we all should be doing, starting at home, resisting over-centralization and global mandates, and autocrats everywhere, wherever they are.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made a wise observation, “We need to establish all the facts, and Russia needs to answer all the serious questions about the circumstances of his death.” While the US shamefully did nothing to protect the rights or the life of its own countryman Gonzalo Lira, and Western media joked and celebrated his death, Stoltenberg’s recommendation should have been made, and followed, as soon as we discovered that Lira had died in a prison in Kharkiv.
Those most feared by governments are most at risk. The US is rich with examples – Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Jeffery Epstein, Seth Rich, John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, or the hundreds of people who showed up for the January 6 reading of the electoral count only to be tracked down and arrested to rot awaiting trials in DC prisons, and thousands of others, most not even household names. The list is long, and we all know someone on that list. Those who effectively challenge state narratives and objectives always put themselves in danger.
Post-Republic, non-democratic governments always need to persecute and murder their political enemies. Instead of accepting or tolerating such governments, we should work to expose, overwhelm and obliterate them, starting and ending with the one we know best — our own.
Originally published on LewRockwell.com.