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Navalny, foremost Putin critic, mysteriously dies in Russian prison

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Alexei Navalny died in Russian prison

Foremost critic of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, and an opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been confirmed dead in the country’s prison in what can be seen as a political assassination by President Putin.

Russia’s prison service broke the news on Friday, February 16, 2024.

Navalny, 47, was serving a long prison sentence about 40 miles north of the Arctic Circle after he was sentenced to 19 years under strict regime.

The opposition leader, who was once poisoned by Putin, ‘felt unwell and collapsed after a walk’, officials say.

Who is Alexei Navalny?

Alexei Navalny was a Russian opposition leader, lawyer, anti-corruption activist and a political prisoner.

He was one of the most vocal critics of President Putin and his government, as well as the invasion of Ukraine.

He organised many anti-corruption investigations and protests.

Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020 and survived but was later arrested and sentenced to 19 years in prison on charges that he and his supporters called politically motivated.

His death has sparked international condemnation and outrage.

Presently, the exact cause of Navalny’s death in jail is not confirmed, as there are conflicting reports and claims from different sources.

However, some possible causes are:

  • A detached blood clot.
  • A nerve agent poisoning, as Navalny had survived a previous attempt in 2020 and his symptoms were similar.
  • A lack of medical care, as Navalny had complained of severe back pain, numbness, and fever, and was denied access to his doctors.
  • A deliberate murder, as Navalny was a prominent critic of Putin, and faced constant threats and harassment.
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These are some of the speculations and allegations that have been made about Navalny’s death, but none of them have been officially verified or proven.

His death has sparked international outrage and calls for an independent investigation.

What does Russian government say?

In the meantime, the Russian government has not officially commented on Navalny’s death, but some sources have suggested that it is trying to downplay or deny its responsibility.

According to RT, a Kremlin-backed media outlet, Navalny died of a detached blood clot, and not of a nerve agent poisoning as his allies and some Western countries claim.

The Russian Investigative Committee has also launched a probe into the death, but it is unlikely to be transparent or independent.

Some Russian officials have accused Navalny of being a foreign agent and a traitor and have warned against any protests or sanctions in response to his death.

Rights activists say that Russian government’s reaction to Navalny’s death shows its disregard for human rights and democracy, and its fear of losing power and legitimacy.

Who have suffered similar fate as Navalny?

Some opposition leaders in Russia have, in the recent past, suffered similar fate as Navalny.

Those opposition leaders include:

1. Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky is a former oligarch and the head of the Open Russia movement, which promotes democracy and human rights in Russia.

He was arrested in 2003 and spent 10 years in prison on charges of tax evasion and fraud.

He now lives in exile in London and continues to fund and support opposition groups and media outlets in Russia.

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2. Ilya Yashin

Ilya Yashin is the co-founder and leader of the Solidarity movement, which unites various opposition forces in Russia.

He was also a close ally of Boris Nemtsov, a prominent opposition politician who was assassinated in 2015.

He has been arrested and detained several times for involvement in anti-government protests and investigations.

Yashin is currently serving a 10-year sentence in a penal colony in Siberia for creating an extremist community.

3. Lyubov Sobol

Lyubov Sobol is a lawyer and a former top investigator for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

She was one of the key figures in Navalny’s Smart Voting campaign, which aimed to challenge the ruling party in the 2021 parliamentary elections.

She was also a candidate for the Moscow City Council in 2019 but was barred from running by the authorities.

Sobol left Russia in 2021 after the FBK was outlawed as extremist.

FBK is the abbreviation for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2011 by Navalny.

It investigates and exposes corruption among high-ranking Russian government officials and organizes anti-government protests and campaigns.

It was declared a foreign agent and an extremist organization by the Russian authorities.

Some of its members have been arrested and persecuted, including Navalny.

The founder, Navalny, just died in jail after being reportedly poisoned with a nerve agent.

Like Prigozhin, like Navalny

Another self-declared opponent of Putin, Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin recently died in 2023 in a plane crash.

Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and mercenary leader, was the founder and head of the Wagner Group, a private military company that supported Russian interests in Ukraine, Syria, and Africa.

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He was also involved in online propaganda and election interference, and was sanctioned by the US, the UK, and the EU.

He was a close ally of President Putin until he launched a rebellion against him in June 2023.

Prigozhin died shortly thereafter.


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