Russian Officials Announce Alexei Navalny’s Death | God's World News

Russian Officials Announce Navalny’s Death

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    Russian activist Alexei Navalny takes part in a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, in 2020. Russia’s prison agency reports that Alexei Navalny has died in prison. (AP/Pavel Golovkin)
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    Alexei Navalny appears via a video link from the Arctic penal colony where he was serving a 19-year sentence. The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service provided the footage in January. (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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    Police officers detain Alexei Navalny during an unauthorized rally in Lubyanka Square in Moscow, Russia, in 2012. (AP/Pavel Golovkin)
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    Alexei Navalny, right, poses for press as he sits handcuffed in court in Moscow, Russia, in 2017. (AP)
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    Alexei Navalny, with his wife Yulia, right, daughter Daria, and son Zakhar pose for the media after voting during a city council election in Moscow, Russia, in 2019. (AP/Andrew Lubimov)
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Russia’s prison agency reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most ardent critic, Alexei Navalny, died February 16. He was serving a 19-year sentence in an Arctic penal colony. Navalny is remembered for his crusades against corruption and for leading massive anti-Kremlin protests. He was 47.

The Federal Penitentiary Service claims Navalny felt unwell after a walk and lost consciousness. An ambulance arrived, but paramedics failed to revive him. His cause of death is still “being established.”

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told NPR that if Navalny’s death is confirmed, it is a terrible tragedy that reflects the Russian government’s history of harming opponents. “It raises real and obvious questions about what happened here,” he says.

The opposition leader’s alleged death comes just about a month before Russia’s next major election—one which almost certainly will secure another six-year term for Putin.

Navalny’s associates stress they don’t have independent confirmation of his death. His close ally Ivan Zhdanov says authorities “must notify the relatives” within 24 hours “if true.”

Navalny had been behind bars since January 2021. Police arrested him when he returned to Moscow after recovering in Germany from nerve agent poisoning. Navalny blamed the Kremlin for the poisoning. Since then, he received three prison sentences. He called the sentences politically motivated.

In Putin’s Russia, political opponents often go into exile after imprisonment, suspected poisonings, or other heavy repression. Others fade amid disputes within their groups. But Navalny’s following grew consistently stronger. He understood how social media could get around the Kremlin’s suffocation of independent news outlets.

State-controlled TV channels ignored Navalny. But his investigations resonated with younger Russians via YouTube videos and posts on his website and social media accounts.

Putin made it a point to never mention the activist by name. He referred to Navalny as “that person” or similar wording in an apparent effort to diminish his importance.

Navalny was born in Butyn, about 25 miles outside Moscow. He received a law degree from People’s Friendship University in 1998. He did a fellowship at Yale in 2010.

He gained attention by focusing on corruption in Russia’s murky mix of politicians and businesses. Early on, he bought a stake in Russian oil and gas companies. He became an activist shareholder and pushed for transparency.

Navalny’s poisoning and arrest in 2021 sparked massive protests. They led to more than 10,000 people being detained by Russian police.

A massive crackdown against the opposition followed. A Moscow court outlawed Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and about 40 regional offices as extremist.

When Putin sent troops to invade Ukraine in February 2022, Navalny strongly condemned the war in social media posts from prison and during his court appearances.

Less than a month later, Navalny was sentenced to an additional nine-year term for embezzlement and contempt of court. And in August 2023, he was convicted on charges of extremism and sentenced to 19 years in prison.

After the verdict, Navalny said he understood that he was “serving a life sentence, which is measured by the length of my life or the length of life of this regime.”

A documentary called Navalny about his story won an Academy Award for best documentary in March 2023. Navalny’s wife spoke at the award ceremony. “My husband is in prison just for telling the truth. My husband is in prison just for defending democracy. Alexei, I am dreaming of the day you will be free and our country will be free.”

In closing remarks in a 2021 court hearing, Navalny said that he had become a Christian. “Now I am a believer, and that helps me a lot in my activities, because everything becomes much, much easier. . . . There are fewer dilemmas in my life, because there is a book in which, in general, it is more or less clearly written what action to take in every situation. It’s not always easy to follow this book, of course, but I am actually trying. And so, as I said, it’s easier for me, probably, than for many others, to engage in politics.”

Besides his wife, Navalny is survived by a son and a daughter.

An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous. But one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked. — Proverbs 29:27