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Donald Trump avoids condemning Putin as he addresses Navalny's death

Former US President Donald Trump has so far declined to publicly condemn Russia and its President Vladimir Putin for the death of Alexei Navalny and has baselessly suggested he is being politically persecuted in the same way the Russian opposition leader was.
The lack of a direct response from the GOP presidential frontrunner is likely to fuel fresh questions about how he would approach Russia in a potential second term following comments earlier this month that he would encourage the country to invade a NATO ally that was not spending enough on defence.
Trump, who faces 91 criminal charges and claims without evidence he is being politically targeted because he is running for president, posted on his social media website on Monday, "The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country. It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction."
Former US President Donald Trump. (Paul Sancya/AP)
"Open Borders, Rigged Elections, and Grossly Unfair Courtroom Decisions are DESTROYING AMERICA. WE ARE A NATION IN DECLINE, A FAILING NATION!" Trump posted on Truth Social. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which span four separate cases against him.
Trump last year also compared himself to Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison and was the first president of post-apartheid South Africa, as he railed against the numerous criminal charges against him and argued he was a victim of political persecution.
The news of Navalny's death, which happened while he was incarcerated in Russia, drew swift and forceful reactions from Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden, who blamed Putin and said, "What has happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin's brutality."
Vladimir Putin and four of his now-dead critics
These people dared to challenge Putin. All of them are dead
In sharp contrast, Trump, who has a long history of praising Putin, went days without publicly mentioning Navalny and spoke for about an hour and a half at a campaign rally in Michigan over the weekend without weighing in on the opposition leader's death.
When asked in the hours after news of Navalny's death broke if Trump had a response, his campaign pointed CNN to a post by Trump on Truth Social that bashed Biden and claimed, "America is no longer respected," but did not mention Navalny or Putin.
The first time Trump mentioned Navalny's name in the wake of his death was when he shared a piece by the tippinsights editorial board on Sunday with the headline "Biden:Trump::Putin:Navalny," that baselessly claimed there are "some parallels between how the Biden administration is targeting the former president of the United States and how President Putin went after his arch-nemesis".
Putin has been accused over Navalny's death. (AP)
Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Trump's last remaining major rival in the GOP primary, has repeatedly called out Trump for avoiding addressing Navalny's death. Haley has called Navalny a "hero" and blamed Putin for his death.
"Trump needs to answer to that. Does he think Putin killed him? Does he think Putin was right to kill him? And does he think Navalny was a hero?" Haley told reporters on Saturday at an event in South Carolina.
She echoed those comments on Sunday during a Fox News town hall, saying, "Donald Trump needs to answer whether he thinks Putin is responsible for Navalny's death."
Alexei Navalny died in a Russian prison. (AP)
Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," former Wyoming GOP Representative Liz Cheney — a leading critic of the former president — said on Sunday she believes "the issue this election cycle is making sure that the Putin-wing of the Republican Party does not take over the West Wing of the White House".
When Trump was in the White House, he declined to join other world leaders in condemning Russia after Navalny was poisoned with a Soviet-era chemical nerve agent in 2020.
Trump has long expressed fondness and admiration for Putin and went so far as to side with the Russian dictator over Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election in a stunning rebuke of the US intelligence community.

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