Dear Editor,

It was said, “If they want to feed you caviar they will feed you caviar; if they want to murder you, they will murder you.” These are the words of Alexey Navalny. Tall and handsome with the brightest blue eyes, with optimism and courage, he fearlessly spoke truth to power that made his way into the hearts of millions worldwide.

On Feb. 16 of this year, Navalny lost his life at the hands of Putin. The movement he began for democracy and freedom in Russia was a threat to Putin’s autocratic government with its mock elections that has kept him in power for over 20 years.

For Putin it was easier to corrupt the voting system than it was to kick and scream and say votes were stolen. Navalny’s movement has been protesting this and all the other corruption of Putin’s that only serve the interests of the Russian elites and his regime.

When Navalny tried to run as Putin’s opponent in this year’s election that was what sealed his fate. Whether it be by plane crash, falling out of a window, shot, poisoned or imprisoned one way or another anyone who opposes Putin will pay a price. It was the following day when Trump announced, “Putin can do whatever the h— he wants!”

Navalny was murdered. Putin laughed and called it, “The Sudden Death Syndrome.” Commonly known in Russia as murder. Although Putin claims he had nothing to do with it, he had everything to do with it. He even went so far as to say he would have done a prisoner swap but not its too late. Really?

Putin wanted Navalny gone for good. He had no intention of doing a prisoner exchange as many had hoped for. Like Navalny said, “If they want to murder you they will murder you.”

Navalny had come back from a near death poisoning and when that didn’t kill him he was imprisoned in a penal colony in the furthest outskirts of the Russian Arctic but when not even that would break his spirit Putin had him brutally murdered.

When a reporter asked about his death Putin replied, “That’s life.” Spoken like a true autocrat … taking a life without batting an eye. When mourners came out with flowers to pay their respects they were harassed, beaten and arrested, but then again that’s what autocrats do when they feel threated. They use violence and intimidation to suppress people into submission.

Something Putin has been doing since his KGB days when he was a thug harassing and intimidating people, and worse. But now doing it on a much larger and grander scale, destroying millions of lives.

Navalny and his movement has been a lightning rod warning us about Putin and what he is doing to his own country and what he intends to do to others, including ours. And what I see going on with some of our politicians and social media courting Putin and his ideologies give validity to Navalny’s warnings about Putin and his regime.

Like he said, “If they want to feed you caviar, they will feed you caviar.” But at what cost? Our democracy and our freedoms? It won’t be you or me eating caviar.

Unlike what Putin had hoped for, Navalny did not die a broken man. He was poisoned and imprisoned and murdered but his beliefs never wavered. Like the saying goes, “You can kill the man but you cannot kill the idea.”

Navalny’s movement for democracy and freedom will go on and so will his spirit in the hearts and minds of millions.