Putin Critic Alexei Navalny Dead at 47, Confirms Russian Officials

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Alexei Navalny, a member of the Putin opposition in Russia, has died after 19 years in prison. Navalny had been held in the ‘Polar Wolf Penal Colony’ in Siberia.

The Russian prison service announced on Friday that Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin and leader of the opposition, died at age 47.

According to The Associated Press, the Federal Prison Service stated in a press release that Navalny had felt unwell and lost consciousness after a Friday walk. The statement said that an ambulance was sent to try and rehabilitate Navalny, but he later died.

Navalny’s spokesperson stated in a posting on X, that “we have not confirmed this yet.”

“Alexei’s lawyer is on his way to Kharp.” We will update you as soon as we receive any information,” Kira Yarmysh said.

Navalny is being held in the IK-3 penal colonies, also known by the name “Polar Wolf” in Kharp, northern Russia. This prison is one of the toughest in the country.

Before this, Russian authorities held him in a facility located approximately 145 miles east of Moscow. Navalny’s staff lost contact after he did not appear via video link in court for a hearing in December. This triggered a desperate search that led to him resurfacing in Kharp just before Christmas.

Vice President Kamala Harris stated Friday that the reports of Navalny’s death were “terrible and we are working hard to confirm them.”

“My prayers go out to his family and especially his wife Yulia who is here with us today. If confirmed, it would be another sign of Putin’s brutality,” continued she. “Whatever the story, let’s be clear: Russia has to take responsibility. We will be back with more information on this topic later.

Alexei Navalny court appearance. Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader, appears via video link, provided by Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, from the Arctic penal colonies where he’s serving a sentence of 19 years, during a hearing before Russia’s Supreme Court in Moscow on January 11, 2024.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Friday that Navalny’s death in a Russian jail and the fixation on and fear for one man “underscores the weakness and decay at the core of the system Putin built.”

Blinken said, “Russia is to blame for this.” We’ll talk to other countries who are concerned about Alexei Navalny if the reports prove to be true.

After meeting with Putin in Geneva, Switzerland in 2021, President Biden was asked what would happen to Navalny if he died in Russian custody.

Biden stated, “I told him I believed that the consequences would be devastating to Russia.”

Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, looks at photographers in front of Babuskinsky district court in Moscow, Russia in February 2021.

Navalny, who has organized anti-government protests in the past and ran for office as a reformer against corruption he believes exists in Russia, has also been involved with organizing demonstrations. He was the target of an alleged murder attempt in 2020 when he was poisoned with a suspected Novichok agent.

He was in a coma in Germany for several weeks, while doctors fought to save his life. He blamed Putin for the poisoning.

Navalny returned to Russia in 2021 and was immediately arrested by the authorities. He was later sentenced to 19 years of prison for extremism. Navalny’s team has raised concerns repeatedly about his treatment after his return, and Navalny says the charges are politically motivated.

Alexei Navalny with his wife Yulia (right), daughter Daria, and son Zakhar pose in front of the media following a vote during a Moscow city council election on September 8, 2019.

The harsh winters in the remote area where Navalny had been held are well-known. Kharp, which is located about 60 miles away from Vorkuta – a coal mining town that was part of the Soviet Gulag prison camp system – has a long and severe winter.

The world’s leaders have been expressing their grief over the death of Navalny.

“He was murdered by Putin.” AFP quoted Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president as saying that “like thousands of other tortured people”.

In a recent post on X, United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that “Alexei Navalny has shown incredible courage his entire life as the most ardent advocate of Russian democracy.”

According to The Associated Press, whenever Putin talked about Navalny he never mentioned him by name. Instead, he would refer to him using words like “that person” and similar expressions, as a way to reduce his importance.

Yevgeny Prgozhin was killed in a plane crash in August last year. He founded the Wagner Group, a group that fought against the Putin regime. The White House appeared to confirm that the government believed Prigozhin had been assassinated.