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April 20, 2021 12:32 pm
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Jewish Leaders Urge Pope Francis to Intervene on Behalf of Jailed Russian Dissident Alexei Navalny

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a court hearing in Moscow, on February 20, 2021. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov.

Prominent Jewish leaders added their signatures onto a letter on Tuesday calling upon Pope Francis to intervene on behalf of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader imprisoned by President Vladimir Putin’s regime who is presently on hunger strike and in a critical medical condition.

The letter to the Pope was sent in the name of the Jan Karski Society, which honors the wartime Polish resistance leader who alerted the world to the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust.

“Alexei Navalny, currently imprisoned by the Moscow regime, is dying in full view of the whole world,” the letter stated. “We plead with you to intervene on his behalf with a message that will reflect the fundamental moral order upon which civilization itself rests.”

Among the signatories of the letter were Abraham Foxman, the former national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and a recipient of the Jan Karski Eagle Award, and Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a Buenos Aires-based educator who is a close associate of Pope Francis and a recipient of the same award. Also signing were Wieslawa Kozielewska, the Karski family’s representative, and Waldemar Piasecki, the chairman of the Jan Karski Society.

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“In extreme situations, actions count,” the letter concluded. “This was proven during the Second World War by our patron Jan Karski. We implore you to call upon your unparalleled moral authority to address this horrible situation.”

The letter was released on the eve of planned demonstrations in Russia calling for Navalny’s release, which organizers hope will be the largest protests in the country’s recent history. Navalny’s supporters have expressed the fear that he is at risk of kidney failure and cardiac arrest.

“Things are developing too quickly and too badly,” a statement on Navalny’s website declared over the weekend. “An extreme situation demands extreme decisions.”

On Sunday, US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed that the administration had told the Russian regime “there will be consequences” in the event of Navalny’s death.

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