Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny Dies in Prison

  • Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny Dies in Prison

    Posted by Unknown Member on February 16, 2024 at 8:09 am

    Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has died in prison, the country’s prison service said Friday, following a yearslong struggle against official corruption and President Vladimir Putin’s government that saw him survive several poisoning attempts.

    He was 47.

    Navalny was poisoned with a military nerve agent while on a business trip in Russia in 2020 — an attempt on his life that he blamed directly on Putin — and spent his final years behind bars as the Russian leader reshaped the country to rally behind his war in Ukraine. Navalny’s death comes as the Kremlin is preparing to orchestrate another election victory for Putin in March.

    Navalny was serving a combined 30 ½-year jail sentence when he died. He went missing in Russia’s penal system in December, eventually turning up at a high-security penal colony in a remote town above the Arctic Circle.

    Russia’s Federal Prison Service said in a statement that Navalny had died after feeling unwell following a walk Friday.

    “On February 16, 2024, in penal colony No. 3, convict A.A. Navalny felt unwell after a walk, almost immediately losing consciousness,” the prison service for the Yamalo-Nenets region, where Navalny was moved, said in a statement on its website.

    “The facility’s medical workers immediately arrived at the scene and an emergency medical team was called in. All necessary resuscitation measures have been carried out, but they did not yield positive results. Emergency medics confirmed the death of the convict,” the statement added.

    There was no immediate information about what exactly caused Navalny’s death, with the region’s investigative committee saying it has launched a “procedural investigation.”

    Navalny’s allies have long raised concerns about his health and poor conditions in jail, where they said he had to spend many days in crammed “punishment cells” for the most minor of conduct violations.

    A spokesperson for the opposition leader said on X that they did not have any confirmation or information about his death. “Russian authorities publish a confession that they killed Alexey Navalny in prison,” said Leonid Volkov, a close ally of many years, in a post on X. “We do not have any way to confirm it or to prove this isn’t true.”

    Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled former oligarch-turned-opposition-figure also said on X: “If this is true, then, regardless of the formal cause [of death], the responsibility for [Navalny’s] premature death is borne by Vladimir Putin, who first authorized the poisoning of Alexei and then put him in prison.”

    Navalny’s death leaves Russia’s opposition, wounded by years of harassment and prosecution, without a clear leader. All of Putin’s most high-profile critics are now either dead, jailed or in exile.

    Navalny was, undoubtedly, the biggest thorn in the Kremlin’s side.

    For more than a decade, he led nationwide protests against the authorities, ran for office to challenge members of the Russian establishment and set up a network of campaign offices across the country that have since been dismantled.

    Born in 1976 in the tiny town of Bytyn, near Moscow, Navalny was educated as a lawyer and economist, but entered politics in 2008, starting his anti-corruption fund, FBK, three years later.

    He was known for his oratory skills, as well as his use of the online space to promote the results of his investigations and spread his ideal of what he called the “wonderful Russia of tomorrow.” His digital savvy made him particularly popular among Russia’s more democratically minded teenagers and youth.

    Navalny rose to prominence as Russia’s most outspoken Kremlin critic after leading a series of anti-corruption investigations into members of the Russian elite.

    His 2017 exposure of the lavish lifestyle of Dmitry Medvedev, a former president and prime minister, led to mass protests. And an investigation into a luxurious “secret palace” on Russia’s Black Sea coast, purportedly owned by Putin, resulted in a wave of indignation across Russia in 2021.

    Navalny tried to run against Putin in the 2018 presidential election, but was barred from entering the race because of a 2014 embezzlement conviction, which he categorically denied as fabricated to keep him out of politics. Russian officials made a point of not referring to Navalny by name to avoid raising his profile in public.

    While on a business trip in Russia in August 2020, Navalny was poisoned with a military nerve agent in an attempt on his life that he blamed directly on Putin.

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