Far-right figures respond to Alexei Navalny’s death by drawing ridiculous equivalences to Trump investigations

Right-wing media figures responded to news that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has died in prison by drawing comparisons to the various prosecutions former President Donald Trump is facing in the United States. 

Navalny was widely celebrated in the West as an anti-corruption crusader and a force for democracy in Russia. He was poisoned in August 2020 with a toxin that had been used in the deaths of other critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has been in prison since early 2021. His death in a “penal colony 40 miles north of the Arctic Circle” was announced by Russian authorities on February 16.

Trump is facing an array of investigations and court cases at the federal, state, and municipal level. Special counsel Jack Smith is investigating Trump for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, as is the district attorney’s office in Fulton County, Georgia. He is also on trial in New York for allegedly fraudulently manipulating his financial assets and paying hush money to porn performer Stormy Daniels.

Many far-right pundits on X (formerly Twitter) attempted to draw equivalencies between the two situations.

  • “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist and neo-Nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec posted that “Democrats and their media allies have cheered the lockup of their political opponents for years.” He added that “now they want to act morally outraged. Without looking in the mirror.” Posobiec has a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 2/16/24; Twitter/X, 2/16/24; Media Matters, 5/14/22]
  • Editor-in-chief of right-wing site The Federalist and Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway argued, “While Democrats continue to pursue the imprisonment of their top political opponent, the death of 47-year-old Putin opponent Navalny in prison in Russia is a grim reminder of how evil the strategy is.” [Twitter/X, 2/16/24]
  • Conservative judicial activist Tom Fitton wrote that it was “more difficult for the Biden administration to criticize Putin on Navalny as Biden's DOJ and Party politicians are trying to jail his opponent Trump and Republican Party leaders and activists across the country with unprecedented, abusive, and anti-constitutional prosecutions.” [Twitter/X, 2/16/24]
  • Trump ally and self-identified “proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer compared Navalny’s imprisonment with the investigations and prosecutions of people involved in the January 6 riot, an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 U.S. election. [Media Matters, 8/20/20; Twitter/X, 2/16/24]
  • Real America’s Voice’s Gina Loudin also compared Navalny with January 6 insurrectionists, writing, “Glad we live in America where the government tyrants don’t take political prisoners like #navalny. Oh wait.” She included several pro-January 6 hashtags in her post. [Twitter/X, 2/16/24]
  • Election denier Dinesh D’Souza drew an exact equivalence between Trump and Navalny, writing, “I’m quite amused at all the outrage over Navalny. ‘Putin wanted to make sure his leading opponent died in prison.’ Isn’t that exactly what the Biden regime is trying to do here, to the cheers of the same people expressing indignation over Putin’s authoritarianism?” [Media Matters, 11/22/22; Twitter/X, 2/16/24
  • The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles did the same, posting, “RIP Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who was imprisoned on trumped-up charges and left to die there. Remember that the American government is currently attempting to do precisely the same thing to our own opposition leader for precisely the same reason.” [Twitter/X, 2/16/24]
  • Right-wing troll account End Wokeness listed several figures close to Trump who had been arrested or convicted of crimes, concluding, “Unfortunately, America has lost its moral standing to condemn foreign regimes.” [Twitter/X, 2/16/24]
  • After implicitly drawing comparisons between the various Trump and January 6 cases and Navalny’s treatment, co-founder of The Federalist Sean Davis sarcastically wrote, “That would never happen in America. That only happens in other countries. America’s government would never do anything like that.” [Twitter/X, 2/16/24]

These absurd comparisons from right-wing media figures were not confined to X. On Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, former Trump Pentagon official Kash Patel said, “It’s ironic that the United States of America is now imprisoning its political opponents and complaining about Vladimir Putin’s actions when it comes to Navalny.” He later added that “the political charges brought against Trump and Trump-world associates are exactly what is happening in Russia.”