Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader, Putin critic, dies in jail

Russian opposition leader

MOSCOW: The Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny – a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin – has died, according to the prison service.

A statement issued by the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District on their website read that Navalny “felt unwell” after a walk on Friday, and “almost immediately lost consciousness”.

Medical staff had been called, but they were unable to resuscitate Navalny, it added. It said the reason for death was being established.

The Kremlin stated it lacks details regarding the cause of Alexei Navalny’s death. In early December, Navalny disappeared from a Vladimir region prison, where he served a 30-year term for extremism and fraud charges, deeming them political retaliation for leading anti-Kremlin opposition in the 2010s.

Not anticipating a release in Putin’s lifetime, Navalny, a former nationalist politician, played a pivotal role in the 2011-12 Russian protests, exposing election fraud, and government corruption, and scrutinizing Putin’s inner circle through widely viewed videos.

His political zenith in 2013 saw a Moscow mayoral bid, challenging the presumed unfairness. Remaining a Kremlin irritant, Navalny uncovered a Black Sea palace for Putin, properties linked to ex-president Medvedev, and connections between a top foreign policy official and a notable oligarch.

Surviving a 2020 novichok poisoning, Navalny faced multiple jail terms upon his return to Russia in 2021, coinciding with Putin’s bid for a fifth term. Putin’s potential continuation beyond 2030 looms as he alters term limits in 2020.