On the evening of March 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first public comment on the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, following the conclusion of voting and his arrival at the election headquarters.

"As for Mr. Navalny, yes, he passed away. This is always a sad event. We've had other cases where people passed away. Didn't this happen in the USA? It happened more than once," stated the president, re-elected for the fifth term.

Putin confirmed media reports that a few days before Navalny’s death, there was a proposal to exchange him.

"You can believe me or not. The person who spoke to me had not finished his sentence yet, I said, 'I agree.' But only on one condition - that we exchange him so that he does not return, let him sit there," he remarked.

The Russian opposition politician died on February 16 in a penal colony located in the polar village of Kharp. Navalny's supporters hold Putin responsible for his death, a sentiment echoed in many Western capitals.