Navalny’s widow says Putin a ‘gangster,’ not president

The widow of Alexei Navalny has called on his supporters to protest Russia's presidential election.

The widow of Alexei Navalny has called on his supporters to protest Russia's presidential election. Photo: AAP

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, said President Vladimir Putin is a “gangster” and that his inevitable re-election in a nationwide vote should not be internationally recognised.

“To defeat Putin, or at least seriously punish him, one must realise who he is,” Navalnaya wrote in an editorial published on Wednesday in the Washington Post.

“Unfortunately, too many people in the West still see him as a legitimate political leader, argue about his ideology and look for political logic in his actions. This is a big mistake that breeds new mistakes and helps Putin to deceive his opponents again and again.”

She said governments must fundamentally change their view of Putin, who is certain to sweep to another six-year term when Russia goes to the polls on Friday.

“Putin is not a politician, he’s a gangster,” she wrote, going on to compare him to a corrupt, status-obsessed leader of a mafia group.

“Why do fairly elected world leaders put themselves on the same level as a criminal who has for decades falsified elections, killed, imprisoned or forced out of the country all his critics, and now has unleashed a bloody war in Europe by attacking Ukraine?”

She argued that the visit by thousands of people to her husband’s grave in Moscow, despite Russia’s crackdown on the opposition, had shown how widespread anti-Kremlin sentiment is.

Putin, who has helmed Russia for a quarter of a century, is facing no serious contenders in the presidential election that runs from Friday to Sunday.

World leaders and Russian opposition activists blame Putin for Navalny’s death last month in an Arctic prison.

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