Alexei Navalny, Putin Critic and Russian Opposition Leader, Dies at 47

The activist was the subject of the Oscar-winning 2023 documentary “Navalny”

Alexei Navalny
Alexei Navalny (HBO/CNN)

Alexei Navalny, one of the fiercest critics of Russian president Vladimir Putin and leader of the Russian opposition, died in prison on Friday according to the BBC. He was 47.

Navalny was serving a 19-year prison term for offenses many deemed politically motivated. He was moved to an Arctic penal colony in 2021, and the prison service said Navalny “felt unwell” after a walk on Friday before he “almost immediately lost consciousness,” according to a statement. “The emergency doctors declared the prisoner dead. Cause of death is being established,” it continued.

Navalny’s spokesperson said on X that while the prison service announced Navalny’s death, they have not confirmed his death yet themselves. As of early Friday morning, his lawyer was currently en route to the prison.

Vice president Kamala Harris addressed Navalny’s death at an event on Friday morning. “This is of course terrible news that we’re working to confirm,” she said, before expressly stating that Russia is responsible for his death. “If confirmed, this would be a further sign of Putin’s brutality. Whatever story they tell, let us be clear: Russia is responsible.”

In August 2020, Navalny was poisoned and an ensuing investigation determined the culprits were agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service. In response to his poisoning, the United States, UK and European Union imposed sanctions on senior Russian officials.

A lawyer by trade, Navalny was leader of the Russia of the Future party and a harsh critic of Putin who regularly called on Russians to unite against the Russian president. In 2012, the day after Putin was inaugurated, Navalny was arrested at an anti-Putin rally and given a 15-day sentence.

He was the subject of the 2023 documentary “Navalny,” which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Director Daniel Roher told TheWrap in February 2023 that Navalny was “the only prisoner in the Russian penal system to be in perpetual solitary confinement,” adding that he was in “a dangerous position.”

“We know that in the last month,” Roher continued, “he’s lost about 17 pounds. Every week there’s a new little torture device and last week, they installed ultra bright lights in the prison cell. So it’s really painful, awful.”

Navalny said in August he was “sitting on a life sentence,” and the U.S. State department responded to Navalny’s extended sentence by calling it an “unjust conclusion.”

“For years, the Kremlin has attempted to silence Navalny and prevent his calls for transparency and accountability from reaching the Russian people. By conducting this latest trial in secret and limiting his lawyers’ access to purported evidence, Russian authorities illustrated yet again both the baselessness of their case and the lack of due process afforded to those who dare to criticize the regime,” the department’s statement read.


One response to “Alexei Navalny, Putin Critic and Russian Opposition Leader, Dies at 47”

  1. Gribble Avatar

    Why he ever went back to Russia baffles me. He was far more effective as a Putin critic living in Germany. RIP

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