Opposition Navalny, Putin's number one enemy, dies in prison

Opposition Navalny, Putin's number one enemy, dies in prison

“Prisoner A.A. Navalny, after an outing, felt unwell and almost immediately fell unconscious in penal colony No. 3,” read the statement issued by Russian prison authorities yesterday to certify the death of Russia’s main opposition leader. The same text stated that despite notifying health services, all attempts to resuscitate Navalny “were in vain,” and his death was confirmed. Although the Federal Penitentiary Service in Yamalya-Nenets, the Arctic region where he was imprisoned, announced this information about the dissident's death, his relatives said they had not yet confirmed the news.

The same state sources confirmed that the causes of the accident are being investigated. The statement issued by the Prison Service explained, “Ambulance doctors declared the prisoner dead. The causes of death are being determined.” The opposition leader's lawyer, Leonid Solovyov, is said to be traveling to Garp, the site of the prison where he has been imprisoned since the end of December 2023.

Navalny's team confirmed, through his spokesman Kira Yarmysh, that until a lawyer can be on site, they will not be able to confirm the authenticity of the death. “A lawyer visited Alexei on Wednesday, and then everything became fine,” Solovyov confirmed to independent media outlet Novaya Gazeta.

Interactions

When news of Navalny's death became public, some Moscow residents spontaneously went to lay roses in his honor at the monument to the victims of Soviet repression in the central Lubyanka Square, next to the Russian intelligence headquarters. Under the eyes of the police officers present there. People close to the defector reacted within a few hours of learning of his death, as was the case with Leonid Volkov, from his team. “We have no reason to believe state propaganda. If it is confirmed, it is not that Navalny died, but that Putin killed Navalny,” he said. His wife demanded that Vladimir Putin be punished from the Munich Security Conference, where he was supposed to address the attendees yesterday.

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Sources in the Kremlin confirmed that President Vladimir Putin was informed of Navalny's death, but they had no additional information about the reasons. Russian news agencies, such as RIA Novosti, claimed that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was also aware of the news. Although he was asked if the death was caused by a blood clot, as some early rumors suggested, he hit the balls away. “As far as we know, the Federal Penitentiary Service now carries out all inspections, investigations, etc., in accordance with current regulations,” were his words at his daily press conference.

For its part, the ruling United Russia party issued strict instructions to its members to “maintain the official discourse (about Navalny’s death) or refrain from making any public comments.”

In prison since 2021, the opposition leader was transferred to penal prison on Christmas Day 2023, where he was to die. The aforementioned center is located in the Emalia-Nenets Autonomous Region, which is one of the harshest regions in the country because it is located in the middle of the Arctic. He went to prison for tax fraud in the Yves Rocher case, although he did not begin serving his sentence until several years later.

He was poisoned in the summer of 2020, when he was returning to meet some political allies in Western Siberia, which almost cost him his life and as a result he needed medical treatment abroad, specifically in Germany. When he returned to Russia, he was detained at the same airport, at passport control. According to Western sources, the cause of the poisoning was Novichok, a Russian-made neurotoxin. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied having anything to do with the poisoning incident. Once imprisoned, he was re-sentenced in 2023 on charges of “extremism”, adding another 19 years to his sentence.

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