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WATCH: Trump condemns Alexei Navalny’s death as ‘horrible thing’ after facing sharp backlash from Haley

Former President Donald Trump condemned the suspicious death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny for the first time during a Fox News town hall.

FIRST ON FOX: Former President Donald Trump openly condemned the death of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny for the first time on Tuesday after facing sharp backlash from Republican rival Nikki Haley.

Trump addressed the suspicious death while participating in a Greenville, South Carolina town hall hosted by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham just days ahead of the state’s Republican presidential primary.

“Navalny — a very sad situation. He was very brave because he went back [to Russia] when he could have stayed away,” Trump said when asked about the outrage from world leaders surrounding Navalny’s death, as well as claims by his opponents that he doesn’t care about human rights and freedom.


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“It’s a horrible thing, but it’s happening in our country too. We are turning into a communist country in many ways,” he added, going on to talk about the various prosecutions he faces in New York, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta.

Trump was initially slow to condemn Navalny’s death, and received criticism after posting on social media that it had made him “more and more aware of what’s happening in our country. It is a slow, steady progression with crooked radical left politicians and prosecutors and judges.”

Haley told Fox News Digital earlier in the day that she was dismayed by his response after the circumstances surrounding Navalny’s death spurred speculation it was an assassination directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. She argued Trump’s comments were intentionally and obviously self-serving.

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“This is on the heels of Trump saying that he would encourage Putin to invade any NATO countries that didn’t pull their weight – And now the only comment he’s going to make about Navalny is not hitting Putin for murdering him, not praising Navalny for fighting the corruption that was happening in Russia. But instead he’s going to compare himself to Navalny and the victim that he is in his court cases?” she said.

According to prison officials, Navalny, 47, fell unconscious and died on Friday. He had been serving a roughly 30-year sentence at the penal colony in northern Russia. 

Navalny’s body was reportedly found with “signs of bruising” last week despite Russian officials telling his mother he died of “sudden death syndrome.”

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Sudden death syndrome is a broad medical term that is not a formal condition or diagnosis. It rather refers to a wide range of scenarios that lead to sudden and unforeseen death.

Navalny had previously organized anti-government demonstrations and ran for office to advocate for reforms against what he called corruption in Russia. He was the victim of an alleged assassination attempt in 2020 when he suffered poisoning from a suspected Novichok nerve agent.

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World leaders and Navalny’s own spokesperson have declared that he was, in fact, murdered by Putin’s regime.

Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday that “we don’t know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did.”

Fox News’ Charles Creitz, Anders Hagstrom and Reuters contributed to this report.

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