Alexei Navalny, Fierce Putin Critic, Dies in Russian Prison at 47

Alexei Navalny, Fierce Putin Critic, Dies in Russian Prison at 47

Alexei Navalny, the prominent Russian opposition figure known for his anti-corruption crusade and massive protests against President Vladimir Putin, has died in prison at the age of 47. The Federal Penitentiary Service reported that Navalny lost consciousness after feeling unwell following a walk on Friday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Putin was informed of Navalny’s death, and the prison service is investigating following standard procedures. However, Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh expressed doubt about his death, stating that the politician’s team had no confirmation, and his lawyer was en route to the prison town.

Navalny, who had been imprisoned since January 2021 after recovering from nerve agent poisoning he attributed to the Kremlin, faced three politically motivated prison sentences. Despite relentless opposition tactics, including physical assaults and imprisonment, Navalny’s influence grew, demonstrating a remarkable ability to utilize social media to circumvent Kremlin-controlled news outlets.

Born in Butyn, Navalny gained attention by exposing corruption in Russia’s political and business spheres, becoming an activist shareholder in oil and gas companies to advocate for transparency. His focus on corruption resonated with Russians’ widespread sense of being cheated, distinguishing him from abstract concerns about democracy and human rights.

Navalny’s legal battles included a 2013 conviction for embezzlement, which he deemed politically motivated. Despite a five-year prison sentence, a higher court later granted him a suspended sentence, coinciding with his registration as a Moscow mayoral candidate. He finished second in the election, gaining popularity against the incumbent backed by Putin’s political machine.

Navalny’s influence surged further after the 2015 assassination of charismatic politician Boris Nemtsov. Despite Putin’s avoidance of mentioning Navalny by name, referring to him as “that person,” Navalny’s determination and sardonic wit persisted, culminating in his bold return to Russia, leading to his arrest and subsequent demise in a remote prison colony in Kharp.

His death marks a significant moment in Russia’s political landscape, leaving questions about the circumstances surrounding his demise and the implications for the opposition movement he championed.

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