Navalny’s death: Reactions in Bulgaria

Reacting to reports on February 16 quoting Russia’s penitentiary service as saying that opposition leader Alexei Navalny had died in prison, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov said that this was sad news and showed why it was important to appreciate what democracy means.

For years, Navalny has been a symbol of the fight against the dictatorship in Russia, of the fight for free speech, of the fact that a person cannot be imprisoned for a different opinion, Denkov said.

Step by step the noose tightened around Navalny, Bulgaria’s PM said, adding that sending him to the penal colony seemed like a death sentence.

“We have to imagine that there is another world, and in that world, where no one can speak their mind freely, except the one at the top, they can send you to a penal colony. We must not forget this because it happened in our country as well,” Denkov said.

Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Maria Gabriel said on X ( : “Deeply distraught to learn about the death of Alexei Navalny. He fought for freedom, defended democratic values, and demonstrated remarkable courage. I extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends”.

Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Todor Tagarev said that the murder of Navalny would not save Putin’s regime.

“The regime killed Navalny. We grieve with his family and all who loved and respected him. But killing Navalny will not bring salvation to Putin’s regime. On the contrary, the deeds of Navalny will continue both in Russia and abroad with even greater force,” wrote Tagarev.

The leader of GERB-UDF – Bulgaria’s largest parliamentary group – Boiko Borissov, said: “Navalny is dead?! No – Navalny is killed! The regime killed him!”

Borissov’s message on X said that this was an “assassination against democracy”.

Strong pressure on the Kremlin and more aid to Ukraine is needed, said Borissov, who chairs Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

Kiril Petkov, co-leader of Parliament’s second-largest group We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, said on X: “Putin does not understand that by killing Navalny, he did not kill the spirit of freedom, he made it stronger and unbeatable, because now Navalny is a symbol of strength, hope and freedom that cannot be put in jail, that cannot be killed again. Navalny won, Putin lost”.

Former foreign minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said: “Putin’s regime finally killed Navalny. We will remember him and hope he will inspire many others. It’s time for even more pressure on Kremlin and more help for Ukraine”.

On social networks, former defence minister Nikolai Nenchev called on people to gather for a protest at 6.30pm on February 16 outside the Russian embassy.

“The world has lost one of the most prominent fighters for human rights and democracy,” President Roumen Radev said on X.

Radev said that it was “extremely important to clarify all the circumstances surrounding the death of Alexei Navalny in prison and make them known to the international community.”

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The Sofia Globe staff

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