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Putin’s Critic Alexei Navalny Dies in Siberia Prison

Navalny Putin
The Russian prison service said Navalny “felt unwell” after a walk on Friday. Credit: , CC BY-NC-SA 2.0/Flickr

Russia’s most significant opposition leader to Vladimir Putin for the past decade, Alexei Navalny, has died in a Siberian prison, Russian officials announced on Friday.

Navalny was serving a 19-year jail term for offenses widely considered politically motivated. He was moved to an Arctic penal colony, considered one of the toughest jails, late last year.

The prison service in the Yamalo-Nenets district said he had “felt unwell” after a walk on Friday.

He had “almost immediately lost consciousness,” it was said in a statement. It was added that an emergency medical team had immediately been called and tried to resuscitate him without success.

“The emergency doctors declared the prisoner dead,” it was reported. “Cause of death is being established.”

Putin’s opponents fall mysteriously ill

In 2020, Navalny was stricken after drinking a cup of tea and was in a coma in the Russian city of Omsk.

The Russian opposition leader who was otherwise in good health, began to feel ill as he returned to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk and had to be carried off the airplane on a stretcher after it made an emergency landing in Omsk. His supporters said at the time that he was poisoned.

This was far from the first time Kremlin critics have mysteriously fallen ill, with those who have spoken out against Russian leaders accusing them of poisonings, sometimes with substances that are never encountered in the course of normal life.

The strapping Alexander Litvinenko, who passed away in great pain in a London hospital in 2006 after his skin turned green, had drunk tea laced with polonium-210. Sergei Skripal, a former double agent for Russia, was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2018 in a restaurant in Salisbury, England while out to eat with his family.

Earlier, his wife and son had mysteriously died of unknown causes. He and his daughter now live in another location, under new identities.

Navalny campaigned against the Putin regime’s corruption

Navalny organized anti-government demonstrations and ran for office to advocate reforms against corruption in Russia, and against Putin and his government.

He was a Russian Opposition Coordination Council member, the leader of the Russia of the Future party and founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK).

He was recognized by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience and was awarded the Sakharov Prize for his work on human rights.

As of 2021, Navalny had more than six million YouTube subscribers. Through his social media channels, he and his team have published material about corruption in Russia, organized political demonstrations, and promoted his campaigns.

In a 2011 radio interview, he described Russia’s ruling party, United Russia, as a “party of crooks and thieves,” which became a popular epithet.

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