China Describes Navalny Death as ‘Russia’s Internal Affair’

beijing — China’s foreign ministry declined to comment Saturday on the death of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, describing it as “Russia’s internal affair.” 

“This is Russia’s internal affair. I will not comment,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in response to a question from AFP. 

Navalny, the Kremlin’s most prominent critic, died Friday in an Arctic prison, Russian officials said, a month before an election poised to extend Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hold on power. 

Navalny’s death after three years in detention and a poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin deprives Russia’s opposition of its figurehead at a time of intense repression and Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine. 

Beijing and Moscow are staunch allies and have strengthened their relationship even as Western countries have turned their backs on Russia over its military invasion of neighboring Ukraine. 

Both sides also have made much of the personal relationship between the two leaders, and China’s President Xi Jinping has referred to his Russian counterpart Putin as his “good friend.” 

Dissidents and some Western leaders placed the blame squarely on Putin and his government for the 47-year-old’s death, which followed months of deteriorating health in harsh detention conditions. 

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