Yulia Navalnaya
Yulia NavalnayaREUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool

The widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being responsible for his death and indicated she will pick up her husband’s mantle, for a “happy, beautiful Russia,” CNN reported.

Yulia Navalnaya posted an eight-minute video on her husband’s social media outlets, saying Putin “killed the father of my children, Putin took away the most precious thing that was my closest and most beloved person.”

She accused Russian authorities of “hiding” Navalny’s body in an attempt to disguise the cause of his death, “lying pathetically” and waiting for “traces of another of Putin’s Novichoks to disappear.”

“I will continue the work of Alexey Navalny,” Navalnaya said in her video, before adding, “I am not afraid, and you don’t need to be afraid of anything.” Speaking entirely in Russian, the message was directed towards the Russian people.

Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmish, said on social media that his body will not be released for another 14 days. She added that his body will be under “some sort of chemical examination” during that period.

The Russian prison service announced on Friday that Navalny died after collapsing and losing consciousness at the penal colony north of the Arctic Circle where he was serving a long jail term.

Navalny, one of Putin's most prominent critics, was arrested in January of 2021 for alleged parole violations after returning from Germany, where he had been recovering from being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent.

He was later sentenced by a Russian court to a three-and-a-half-year sentence, though his lawyer said he would serve only two years and eight months in jail because of time he has already spent under house arrest.

In March of 2021, Navalny launched a hunger strike to protest the authorities’ failure to provide proper treatment for his back and leg pains. He subsequently ended the hunger strike on the advice of his doctors.

In August, a Russian court convicted Navalny on charges of extremism and sentenced him to 19 years in prison.

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both blamed Putin for Navalny’s death. Biden said on Friday he did not yet know exactly what had happened to 47-year-old Navalny, but that it was the fault of Putin and his "thugs."