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How the world is reacting to Alexei Navalny's death

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The news of Navalny's death came as a shock to many around the world. President Biden says he will hold Russia responsible for the death of the Kremlin critic. NPR's Michele Kelemen has more.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: President Biden says Navalny was everything Russian President Vladimir Putin is not.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: He was brave. He was principled. He was dedicated to building a Russia where the rule of law existed and where it applied to everybody. Navalny believed in that Russia, that Russia. He knew it was a cause worth fighting for and obviously even dying for.

KELEMEN: Navalny's wife, Yulia, was at a security conference in Munich when Russian prison authorities said her husband had died.

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YULIA NAVALNAYA: (Speaking Russian).

KELEMEN: "I want Putin and all those who surround him to know that they will be held responsible for what they did to my country, my family and my husband," she said, urging the world to unite and fight what she called this evil. The U.N. secretary-general is calling for a credible investigation. And the U.N.'s human rights office says Russia should stop persecuting its critics. One human rights activist in exile, Natalia Arno, says she will have a hard time speaking about Navalny in past tense.

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NATALIA ARNO: He is a hero. He is a symbol of Russian resistance. Heroes don't die. Heroes motivate us to do more things.

KELEMEN: She was speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace along with other Russian human rights activists, who point out that Navalny always said that his death would be a sign that his movement is strong and Putin's regime is afraid. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.