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The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Column: An Overview of February News

Photo illustration by Paavo Lahdesmaki; Photos via Wikimedia Commons by Mitya Aleshkovsky, Matt Wade, Drew Angerer
Aleksei Navalny dead, the race for the White House, Mitch McConnell steps down.

Aleksei Navalny Dead

Political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin and anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny died at 47 on Friday, February 16 in a Russian prison. His death was announced by Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service and later confirmed by Navalny’s close allies. Russian state media stated his death was due to a blood clot, but no autopsy or independent investigation has confirmed this.

Navalny was involved in Russian politics since 2000, but his popularity began to grow in 2011 when he founded the Anti-Corruption Foundation — a nonprofit aimed to expose government corruption. He was arrested for protesting the results of the 2011 Russian legislative election and later charged with fraud and embezzlement in 2012, which banned him from running in the 2018 presidential election. He remained a prominent critic of Putin and continued to campaign against his reelection. 

In 2020, Navalny was hospitalized after being poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent — the same type of poison used in double agent Sergei Skripal’s attempted assassination in 2018. A joint investigation by The Insider and Bellingcat found that agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service were responsible for the poisoning, an allegation that Putin denied. Navalny later returned to Russia from Germany in 2021, where he was promptly arrested; trials in 2022 and 2023 sentenced Navalny to a total of 38 years in prison for fraud, embezzlement and extremism. 

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U.S. President Joe Biden and other Western leaders maintain that Putin was responsible for Navalny’s death. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to the accusations as being “hysterical” and “absolutely rabid.” Putin himself has not publicly commented on Navalny’s death. 

Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya — who was known to avoid the spotlight to protect her and Navalny’s children —  announced that she would continue her late husband’s political activities. Navalny’s public funeral took place in Moscow on FridayFriday, March 1, where thousands of supporters gathered along with a heavy police presence. 

Mitch McConnell Steps Down

On Wednesday, February 28, Senator Mitch McConnell announced that he would step down as the leader of the Senate Republican Party following November’s elections. McConnell plans to serve out his term as senator until his term ends in 2027, and it’s unknown if he’ll run for reelection as Senator in 2026. 

With McConnell’s increasing alienation from former President Donald Trump — such as when he blamed Trump for the January 6 Capitol riots in 2021 — in addition to a series of health issues last year, the decision to step down doesn’t come as a surprise to allies or opponents. McConnell stated that his views on national security are out of step with the current Republican party. An election to replace McConnell as party leader will take place in November, and the successor will take charge in January.

Presidential Election

After Super Tuesday — where over a third of all delegates were at stake — former President Donald Trump is currently leading in the Republican Presidential Primary with 1,062 delegates. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was lagging behind with 91 delegates, which prompted the suspension of her campaign, making Trump the only notable candidate for the Republican nomination. Haley managed to win two primaries — those in the District of Columbia and Vermont — making her the first woman to win a Republican Presidential Primary in the U.S. 

President Joe Biden has 1,596 delegates, with 16  being spread out amongst all other candidates — representative Dean Phillips, author Marianne Williamson and others. In the Michigan primary on Tuesday, February 27, 13 percent of Democratic votes were for “uncommitted” rather than Biden —  the result of a concerted protest against Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

With all other Republican candidates having dropped out, Trump is expected to win the Republican nomination and face-off against Biden in November.

Photos by Mitya Aleshkovsky, Matt Wade, Drew Angerer.

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Paavo Lahdesmaki
Paavo Lahdesmaki, Staff Writer

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