Russian politician Alexei Navalny dies

Alexei Navalny, Russian lawyer, blogger and outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has died at the age of 47.

Navalny was serving a 19-year sentence for charges of extremism against the Russian government and had recently moved from a former central Russian prison to a remote penal colony, the highest security level of prison in Russia, according to AP News.

Russia’s prison service claimed that Navalny fell unconscious Feb. 16 while taking a routine walk around the penal colony and died shortly after, but his spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, claimed that he was “murdered,” according to AP news.

Russian authorities said that they will not release Navalny’s body until a full investigation is complete, which has prompted theories that Russian administration is holding onto the body to cover up potential foul play, according to AP news. Navalny’s mother as well as his lawyer were told by the prison colony that Navalny had died of “sudden death syndrome.” 

Navalny was known for his fierce opposition of Putin’s regime. He regularly released YouTube videos about the corruption of the Russian government.

In a radio interview from 2011, Navalny described the Russian government as “a party of crooks and thieves,” according to Freedom House.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, addressed the Munich Security Conference Feb. 16 after his death.

“This regime and Vladimir Putin should be held personally responsible for all the atrocities they have committed in our country these past years,” Navalnaya said. 

Photo by Liza Pooor

Navalny had survived multiple poisoning attempts which his team blames on the Kremlin, the first being in 2017 when he was attacked by assailants outside his office. He was sprayed with green dye, leading to a loss of 80 percent of his sight in his right eye, according to BBC. 

Navalny also survived a previous poisoning attempt from the Russian government in 2020, according to DW. Navalny became sick while on a flight from Siberia to Moscow after he was poisoned with a nerve agent. He was flown to Berlin, where he was put into a medically induced coma.

After the 2020 poisoning, Yarmysh published a statement on Twitter, saying “Doctors at the German Charite clinic confirmed that Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors. Alexei’s condition is stable, but he is still in a coma. No forecasts yet.”

Political leaders from around the world have begun releasing statements about Navalny’s death, some taking hard stances against Putin, and others taking more cautious stances.

U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters Feb. 17 that Putin is to blame for Navalny’s death.

“The fact of the matter is, Putin is responsible,” Biden told reporters after leaving a church service. “Whether he ordered it, he’s responsible for the circumstance. It’s a reflection of who he is. It cannot be tolerated.”   

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also took a strong stance against Putin’s regime in a statement.

“The news of Alexei Navalny’s death is horrible, but it also shows that Putin fears nothing more than the dissent from his own people,” von der Leyen said. “Putin and his friends fear nothing more than people that stand up, that speak up.”

Since Navalny’s death, over 400 people have been detained in Russia while paying public tribute to the politician, according to the New York Times.

Smith is the news editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X

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