Russian opposition leader and President PUTIN's critic ALEXEI NAVALNY dies in prison

Friday, February 16, 2024
 – Russia's most significant opposition leader and President Vladimir Putin's critic has died in an Arctic Circle jail at the age of 47.

According to the Russian prison service, he collapsed and died on Friday, February 16, after a walk at the "Polar Wolf" Arctic penal colony where he was serving a three-decade jail term.

The prison service in the Yamalo-Nenets district said Navalny had "felt unwell" after a walk on Friday.

He had "almost immediately lost consciousness", it said in a statement, adding that an emergency medical team had immediately been called and tried to resuscitate him but without success.

"The emergency doctors declared the prisoner dead. Cause of death is being established."

The 47-year-old was last seen via video link during a court hearing on Thursday.

Dressed in a black prison uniform, he appeared to be in good spirits. 'Your Honour, I will send you my personal account number so that you can use your huge salary as a federal judge to 'warm up' my personal account because I am running out of money,' he said.

Navalny's mother Lyudmila said she had seen her son in the prison colony on Monday. At the time, she said: 'He was alive, healthy, cheerful.'

But the Federal Prison Service said in a statement today that Navalny felt unwell after a walk and lost consciousness. An ambulance arrived to try to save him, to no avail.

Speaking in Munich just hours after the news broke, his devastated wife Yulia Navalnaya defiantly told a crowd that Putin and his regime should be held personally responsible for 'what they are doing to Russia.'

Holding back tears, she added that she was not yet sure if her family could believe the news and called upon the international community to come together and fight against the 'horrific regime' in Russia.

Russian news agency Interfax reported that it was told the ambulance team reached the colony where Navalny was serving his sentence in seven minutes.

It took another two minutes to reach the patient, it claimed.

'The doctors who arrived at the scene continued the resuscitation measures that were already being provided by the penal colony's doctors.

And they spent more than half an hour. However, the patient died,' said the local hospital.

Reports said his time of death was recorded as 2.17pm local time (7.17am GMT).

Christo Grozev, the lead Russia investigator with Bellingcat, noted that the statement announcing Navalny's death was posted just two minutes later - at 2.19pm.

Navalny's spokesperson said on the X social media platform that she was unable to confirm his death. Kira Yarmysh said that Navalny's lawyer was travelling to the site of the prison where he had been serving his sentence.

Leonid Volkov, a Navalny aide, said: 'The Federal Penitentiary Service in the Yamalo-Nenets District is disseminating news about the death of Alexei Navalny in IK-3.

'We don't have any confirmation of this yet. Alexey's lawyer is now flying to Kharp. As soon as we have any information, we will report it.'

Russia's TASS news agency reported that Navalny did not complain about health problems before his death.

Putin has been informed about his rival's death, his spokesman confirmed.

Dmitry Peskov said: 'As far as we know, in line with all the existing rules, the FSIN [prison service] are running all the checks and establishing... all of that. No orders are needed for that because there is a certain set of rules for these occasions.'

Asked if it was true there was a blood clot, he said: 'I don't know, I don't know…. The medics should establish [cause of death].'

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak paid tribute to the 'fiercest advocate for Russian democracy', saying Navalny was a prominent and persistent critic of Putin who had 'demonstrated incredible courage throughout his life'.

The Prime Minister said: 'This is terrible news. As the fiercest advocate for Russian democracy, Alexei Navalny demonstrated incredible courage throughout his life. My thoughts are with his wife and the people of Russia, for whom this is a huge tragedy.'

Foreign Secretary David Cameron said 'Putin should be accountable' for his death.

Lord Cameron said: 'Navalny fought bravely against corruption. Putin's Russia fabricated charges against him, poisoned him, sent him to an Arctic penal colony & now he has tragically died.

'Putin should be accountable for what has happened - no one should doubt the dreadful nature of his regime.'

The White House said if confirmed, Navalny's death would be 'a terrible tragedy.'

Speaking on NPR, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also added the Kremlin's 'long and sordid' history of harming its opponents ‘raises real and obvious questions about what happened here.’

Vice President Kamala Harris said the US was working to confirm the death of Navalny, adding that it would be a further sign of Putin's brutality.

US President Joe Biden had warned in June 2021 that Putin would face consequences if Navalny died in prison.

Navalny miraculously survived a suspected assassination attempt with a nerve agent in August 2020 during a flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk, where he was organising opposition candidates.

He collapsed in the aisle while returning from the bathroom, and the plane made an emergency landing in the city of Omsk, where he spent two days in a hospital while supporters begged doctors to allow him to be taken to Germany for treatment.

Once in Germany, doctors determined he had been poisoned with a strain of Novichok - similar to the nerve agent that nearly killed former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in 2018.

Navalny was in a medically induced coma for about two weeks, before he recovered.

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