Russians report Navalny’s death

Prison service: 47-year-old critic of Putin died after walk

FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks to the media prior to a court session in Moscow, on Aug. 22, 2019. Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison Friday Feb. 16, 2024 Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks to the media prior to a court session in Moscow, on Aug. 22, 2019. Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison Friday Feb. 16, 2024 Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)


Alexei Navalny, who crusaded against official corruption and staged anti-Kremlin protests as President Vladimir Putin's fiercest foe, died Friday in the Arctic penal colony where he was serving a 19-year sentence, Russia's prison agency said. He was 47.

Navalny felt unwell after a walk Friday, according to the Federal Penitentiary Service, and lost consciousness. An ambulance arrived, but he could not be revived. The service said the cause of death was "being established."

Navalny had been behind bars since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow to face certain arrest after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin. Since then, he was convicted three times and rejected each case as politically motivated.

After the last verdict, Navalny said he understood that he was "serving a life sentence, which is measured by the length of my life or the length of life of this regime."

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Putin was informed of Navalny's death, but the opposition leader's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the team had no confirmation yet.

Russia's state Channel One television interrupted its newscast to announce the death, and other state-controlled channels also carried terse reports but then continued on with their news broadcasts.

Shortly after the death was reported, the Russian SOTA social media channel shared footage of the opposition politician -- reportedly in court Thursday -- laughing and joking with the judge via video link.

Navalny was moved in December from a prison in central Russia to a "special regime" penal colony -- the highest security level for prisons.

His allies decried the transfer to a colony, in a region about 1,200 miles northeast of Moscow, as yet another attempt to force Navalny into silence.

Before his arrest, Navalny campaigned against official corruption, organized major anti-Kremlin protests and ran for public office.

When prison authorities put Navalny in a tiny cell to punish him for minor infractions -- allowing him access to a narrow concrete prison yard only in the early morning -- he joked: "Few things are as refreshing as a walk in Yamal at 6:30 in the morning."

Navalny was born in Butyn. He received a law degree from People's Friendship University in 1998 and did a fellowship at Yale in 2010.

He gained attention by focusing on corruption in Russia. One of his early moves was to buy a stake in Russian oil and gas companies to become an activist shareholder and push for transparency.

He was convicted in 2013 of embezzlement on what he called a politically motivated prosecution and was sentenced to five years in prison, but the prosecutor's office later demanded his release pending appeal. A higher court later gave him a suspended sentence.

The day before the sentence, Navalny had registered as a candidate for Moscow mayor. He finished second.

Navalny's popularity increased after the leading charismatic politician, Boris Nemtsov, was shot and killed in 2015.

His work broadened from focusing on corruption to wholesale criticism of the political system under Putin. He was a central galvanizing figure in protests against dubious national election results and the exclusion of independent candidates.

In 2017, an assailant threw green-hued disinfectant in his face, seriously damaging one of his eyes, but much worse was to come.

While serving a jail sentence in 2019 for involvement in an election protest, he was taken to the hospital with an illness that authorities said was an allergic reaction, but some doctors said it appeared to be poisoning.

A year later, he became severely ill on a flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk. The plane made an emergency landing in the city of Omsk, where he spent two days in a hospital before being sent to Germany for treatment.

Doctors there determined that he had been poisoned with a strain of Novichok. He was in a medically induced coma for about two weeks.

The Kremlin vehemently rejected that it was behind the poisoning, but Navalny challenged the denial.

He released the recording of a call he said he made to an alleged member of a group of officers of the Federal Security Service who purportedly carried out the poisoning and then tried to cover it up. The FSB dismissed the recording as fake.

Russian authorities then raised the stakes, announcing that during his time in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of a suspended sentence in one of his convictions and that he would be arrested if he returned home.

Navalny and his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, nevertheless, boarded a plane for Moscow on Jan. 17, 2021. On arrival, he told waiting journalists that he was pleased to be back, walked to passport control and into custody.

Just over two weeks after his return, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to 2½ years in prison.

As part of a crackdown against the opposition that followed, a Moscow court in 2021 outlawed Navalny's Foundation for Fighting Corruption and about 40 regional offices as extremist, a verdict that exposed members of his team to prosecution.

When Putin sent troops to invade Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Navalny strongly condemned the war in social media posts from prison and during his court appearances.

Less than a month after the start of the war, Navalny was sentenced to an additional nine-year term for embezzlement and contempt of court in a case he and his supporters rejected as fabricated. Then in August 2023, he was convicted on charges of extremism and sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Besides his wife, he is survived by a son and daughter.

  photo  FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures while speaking during his supporters' meeting that nominated him for the presidential election race in Moscow, Russia on Dec. 24, 2017. Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison Friday Feb. 16, 2024 Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, 2nd right, addresses supporters and journalists after arriving from Kirov at a railway station in Moscow, Russia on July 20, 2013. Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison Friday Feb. 16, 2024 Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny with his wife Yulia after his last rally in rain-soaked Moscow, Russia, on Sept. 6, 2013. Russia's prison agency says that imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny has died. He was 47. The Federal Prison Service said in a statement that Navalny felt unwell after a walk on Friday Feb. 16, 2024 and lost consciousness. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who submitted endorsement papers necessary for his registration as a presidential candidate, center, heads to attend a meeting in the Russia's Central Election commission in Moscow, Russia on Dec. 25, 2017. Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison Friday Feb. 16, 2024 Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, center, attends a rally in Moscow, Russia, on Jan. 28, 2018. Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison Friday Feb. 16, 2024 Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, right, embraces his wife Yulia, as he was released in a courtroom in Kirov, Russia, on July 19, 2013. Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison Friday Feb. 16, 2024 Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny prepares to speak to journalists outside a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, on March 13, 2013 after his appeal against the country's top investigative agency was rejected. Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison Friday Feb. 16, 2024 Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, center, and his former colleague Pyotr Ofitserov, foreground, listen to judge in a court in Kirov, Russia, on July 18, 2013. Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison Friday Feb. 16, 2024 Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears on a TV screen during a live session with the court during a hearing of his appeal in a court in Moscow, Russia, on Jan. 28, 2021 with a mural of the Moscow Kremlin in the background. Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison Friday Feb. 16, 2024 Russia's prison agency said. He was 47. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
 
 



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