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U.S. Intelligence Doubts Putin Directly Ordered Navalny's Killing, Reports Suggest

By News   Desk

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin likely did not directly order the killing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a prison camp in February, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal on Saturday.

Navalny, 47 at the time of his death, was Putin's fiercest domestic critic. His allies, labeled extremists by Russian authorities, have accused Putin of orchestrating Navalny's murder and vowed to provide evidence to support their allegations.

The Kremlin has consistently denied any state involvement in Navalny's demise. Last month, Putin described the opposition figure's death as "sad" and claimed he was prepared to hand over Navalny to the West in a prisoner exchange, provided he never returned to Russia. Navalny's associates confirmed that such discussions were underway.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the Journal reported that U.S. intelligence agencies have broadly accepted the assessment that Putin likely did not order Navalny's killing in February. However, the report stated that Washington has not absolved the Russian leader of overall responsibility, given Navalny's history of persecution by Russian authorities, his politically motivated imprisonment, and the 2020 nerve agent poisoning attempt against him.

The Kremlin continues to deny any state role in the 2020 poisoning incident.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the Journal's report as "empty speculation" and questioned the quality of the material, stating, "I wouldn't say it's high-quality material that deserves attention."

Reuters was unable to independently verify the Journal's report, which cited sources stating that the finding was "broadly accepted within the intelligence community and shared by several agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the State Department's intelligence unit."

The U.S. assessment was based on a range of information, including classified intelligence and an analysis of public facts, such as the timing of Navalny's death and how it overshadowed Putin's re-election in March, according to the report's sources.

Leonid Volkov, a senior Navalny aide, was cited in the report as calling the U.S. findings “naive and ridiculous.”