Trump likens his legal troubles to persecution of Alexei Navalny

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump greets people after a Fox News Channel town hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump greets people after a Fox News Channel town hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. Copyright Chris Carlson/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Calling Navalny "a very brave guy", the Republican front-runner compared the criminal charges against himself to what happened to Putin's late rival.

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Donald Trump has compared his legal troubles to the persecution of Alexei Navalny, who died in a remote Arctic prison last week. 

Speaking to Fox News, the former US president called the Russian dissident's imprisonment and death a "very sad situation", suggesting he probably should not have returned to Russia. 

Trump did not assign any blame for Navalny's death, however. 

US President Joe Biden and other Western leaders have pointed to Vladimir Putin. 

In the hour-long interview, Trump claimed the recent $355 fine handed to him in a New York fraud trial was a "form of Navalny". 

"It is a form of communism, of fascism," he added. 

Long accusing the Russian president and his inner circle of corruption and opulence, Navalny spent most of his recent years in prison on charges his supporters say were politically motivated. He was jailed in 2021, after returning from Germany where he had been recovering from nerve agent poisoning. 

Women lay flowers at the Memorial to Victims of Political Repression to pay respect to Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.
Women lay flowers at the Memorial to Victims of Political Repression to pay respect to Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024.Dmitri Lovetsky/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

Trump - who could potentially be the next US president again - called Navalny "a very brave guy.” 

“He went back, he could have stayed away, and frankly probably would have been a lot better off staying away and talking from outside of the country." 

"It’s a horrible thing, but it’s happening in our country, too,” he continued. "We are turning into a communist country in many ways. I have eight or nine trials all because of the fact that ... I’m in politics.”

Trump did not mention Putin, despite repeated prompts from Fox News interviewer Laura Ingraham. 

This is part of his longstanding refusal to criticise - or often compliment - Russia's number one which goes back to his days in the White House. 

The Kremlin has denied involvement in Navalny’s death and said Western claims that Putin was responsible are unacceptable.

During the interview, Trump was asked if he could become a “potential political prisoner” like Navalny.

“If I were losing in the polls, they wouldn’t even be talking about me and I wouldn’t have had any legal fees,” he answered. 

“If I were out, I think — although they hate me so much, I think if I got out they’d still, ‘let’s pursue this guy, we can’t stand this guy.’”

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