(Bloomberg) -- Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump drew parallels between his litany of court cases and the recent death of Russian dissident Alexey Navalny, defending previous comments that he made on his Truth Social media platform. 

In a town hall on Fox News broadcast Tuesday night, the host Laura Ingraham asked Trump how he would pay or appeal the $364 million in penalties, plus interest in a New York judge’s Feb. 16 verdict against his real estate company for inflating asset values in order to secure better terms hundreds of millions of dollars in loans. 

“It is a form of Navalny. It is a form of communism or fascism,” Trump said. 

His answer came moments after Ingraham asked him about a post on Truth Social in which he wrote “the sudden death of Alexey Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our country.”

When asking the question, Ingraham pointed that Trump’s opponents used the remarks to say that he’s “pro-Putin” and that the ex-president wasn’t concerned about human rights. 

Trump stopped short of criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin in his answer. He instead said that Navalny would have been safer to criticize Russia from afar.

“Navalny is a very sad situation, and he’s a brave, very brave. He was a very brave guy because 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 as opposed to having to go back in because people thought that could happen and it did happen,” Trump said. 

He went on to compare Navalny’s death to his legal problems.

Read More: US to Announce ‘Major’ Sanctions Friday Over Navalny Death 

“And it’s a horrible thing, but it’s happening in our country, too. We are turning into a communist country in many ways, and if you look at it, I’m the leading candidate. I never heard about being indicted before. I got indicted four times, I have eight or nine trials all because of the fact that I’m in politics. They indicted me for things that are so ridiculous.”

Trump, who faces several civil and criminal cases, including 91 felony counts, has cast his legal difficulties — without evidence — as a concerted effort by his political rivals to target him.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

The Fox interview took place in South Carolina, days before the state’s Republican primary. Trump is trying to vanquish the state’s ex-governor Nikki Haley in the contest on Saturday in order to fully pivot to a general election rematch against President Joe Biden.

With Trump’s large lead in most primary polls against Haley, Democrats are already bracing for the November election. Biden and Democrats are likely to pounce on the Navalny comments as they draw a contrast between Trump’s more isolationist foreign policy doctrine relative to Biden’s traditional approach. 

At a fundraising even in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening, Biden said, “When Navalny died last week and the world holds Putin responsible, Trump fails to even condemn it. It’s outrageous.”

Navalny, 47, was a prominent opponent of Putin who drew the Russian leader’s ire by publishing investigations into corruption at state companies and videos documenting the lavish lives of senior officials. He was nearly killed in 2020 after a nerve-agent attack that he blamed on Putin’s security services and was jailed in 2021. He died in a remote Arctic prison.

Read more: Outraged Biden Says Putin Is Responsible for Navalny’s Death

Biden has laid the blame for his death squarely on the Russian president, saying Putin was “responsible” and saying the moment called for US resolve to back its allies, including Ukraine. Biden has assailed Trump in recent days over threats to allow Russia to attack NATO allies if they fail to honor their commitments on defense spending and for getting Republican lawmakers to kill a deal on immigration and border security that included aid for Ukraine.

This weekend marks two years since Russia invaded Ukraine.  

Biden said earlier Tuesday that the US would announce a “major” sanctions package against Russia on Friday.

Haley had assailed Trump before his Truth Social post for remaining silent about Navalny’s death. Trump’s former United Nations ambassador, she has championed a more conventional Republican foreign policy, backing sustained US support for Kyiv and a more interventionist outlook.

“Either he sides with Putin and thinks it’s cool that Putin killed one of his political opponents, or he just doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Haley said Sunday on ABC’s This Week. “I think it’s important to stand with the Russian people who believe Navalny was really talking for them.”

Earlier: Nikki Haley Assails Trump for Silence on Navalny’s Death

Trump’s populist, isolationist views on foreign policy have been embraced by the Republican base, but have sparked alarm in foreign capitals worried about the US commitment to its allies.

--With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs.

(Updates with Biden quote, in 14th paragraph.)

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