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Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is dead – prison service

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is dead – prison service
Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny (C) is escorted out of a police station in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia 18 January 2021. EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died on Friday after collapsing and losing consciousness at the penal colony north of the Arctic Circle where he was serving a long jail term, the Russian prison service said.

Alexei Navalny, by far Russia’s most famous opposition leader, rose to prominence more than a decade ago by lampooning the elite class around President Vladimir Putin and voicing allegations of corruption on a vast scale.

The Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District said in a statement that Navalny “felt unwell” after a walk at the IK-3 penal colony in Kharp, about 1,900 km (1,200 miles) north east of Moscow. He was 47.

Navalny, the prison service said, had lost consciousness almost immediately.

Read   from Daily Maverick archives, Navalny in his own words: My fear and loathing inside a Russian Prison.

“The medical staff of the institution arrived immediately, and an ambulance team was called,” the prison service said.

“All necessary resuscitation measures were carried out, which did not yield positive results. Doctors of the ambulance stated the death of the convict.”

“The causes of death are being established.”

Putin has been told about Navalny’s death, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Putin, who is running for re-election in a month, was shown on a television clip visiting a factory in the Urals.

Supporters of Navalny said they could not confirm he was dead, but that if he was then they believed he had been killed.

“Russian authorities publish a confession that they killed Alexei Navalny in prison,” Navalny aide Leonid Volkov wrote on social media. “We do not have any way to confirm it or to prove this isn’t true.”

Condemnation quickly poured in from Western governments.

“Dreadful news about Alexei Navalny… If the report about his death in Russian prison is true it represents another terrible crime by Putin’s regime,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on X.

“The ruthlessness against Navalny shows again why it is necessary to continue to fight against authoritarianism.”

Death in jail

Navalny’s lawyer was on his way to the “Polar Wolf” prison in Kharp where Navalny died. Russian state television showed a press conference by the central bank.

Russian newspaper editor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov told Reuters on Friday the death of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny was “murder”, and said that he believed harsh treatment had led to his demise.

“My sincere belief is that it was the conditions of detention that led to Navalny’s death … His sentence was supplemented by murder,” Muratov said, offering condolences to his family.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Navalny – the tragic and inspiring story of a man who stood up to Putin. 

Navalny earned admiration from Russia’s disparate opposition for voluntarily returning to Russia in 2021 from Germany, where he had been treated for what Western laboratory tests showed was an attempt to poison him with a nerve agent.

Navalny said at the time that he was poisoned in Siberia in August 2020. The Kremlin denied trying to kill him and said there was no evidence he was poisoned with a nerve agent.

In an interview in Moscow in 2011, Navalny was asked by Reuters if he was afraid of challenging Putin’s system. “That’s the difference between me and you: you are afraid and I am not afraid,” he said. “I realize there is danger, but why should I be afraid?” DM

(By Guy Faulconbridge and Felix Light, editing by Andrew Cawthorne)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    Well this was inevitable and so wrong. And South Africa thinks Russia is a good idea. RIP courageous man and condolences to his brave family.

  • Mosa Tsoai says:

    Now lets see what the South African Government has to say about this.

  • Jaqueline Perkes says:

    We have lost another giant of conscience.

  • dexter m says:

    It was just a matter of when ,not if he was going to be killed.

  • Sharon Eigenhuis says:

    ‘Putin has been told about Navalny’s death’. What a joke – he probably ordered his death! Like all opposition to Putin who are either imprisoned or die mysteriously (or not so mysteriously).

  • robertbreyer says:

    Fikile Mbalula is in Russia right now, to participate in a forum to challenge the West and neocolonialism.
    Russia is now a place where you poison opponents, and if that doesn’t finish them off, you send them off to the penal colonies in Siberia.
    Stalin is smiling, in his grave in hell.

    • Paddy Ross says:

      As the ANC are claiming that they are on the moral high ground by approaching the ICJ with regard to Gaza, will they strengthen that claim by “recalling” Mbalula from the Moscow charade that he is attending orchestrated by Putin, the Machiavellian puppet master.

  • Jacques Siebrits says:

    Our dear friends in the north…

  • David Marsh says:

    The assassination of opposition to Putin’s kleptocracy is not just a Russian phenomena. The silence in SA from the Hawks and media about their investigation into the assassination of Hawks investigator Frans Mathipa, allegedly by elements of the SANDF 6 months ago, is deafening. We are going down the same road.

  • Cape Doctor says:

    The jocular SecGen of the ANC will no doubt commend his Russian hosts for their exemplary medical response to the neocolonialist Navalny’s collapse – and then resume his shopping trip.

  • Rencia Cloete says:

    RIP Alexei Navalny. You were a beacon of hope in this world gone mad. Thank you for spending your life in the pursuit of humanity’s better side. I grieve with your family for your loss.

  • Derek Jones says:

    What a surprise.

  • Johan Buys says:

    I’m surprised he survived three years

  • Frank Fettig says:

    Now let’s see what our hypocrites have to say…

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Very sad and tragic for the other decent Russia!! This is Putin’s work and orders – he murders everyone who stands in his way, doesn’t tow the line or dares challenges him. Navalny, Prigozhin, Magnitsky and countless others opposition figures, journalists etc. Of course the odious and vile Lavrov, Peskov and Kremlin will go into overdrive to lie, deny, misinform, distort etc. as is their DNA. Masters of propaganda and lies! And Cyril the spineless, useless and hypocritical, along with his hideous party won’t utter a word but just fall in line with their master. And this abominable individual pontificates about human rights etc. Absolutely sickening!!

  • Dragon Slayer says:

    What a tragedy and a clear warning to NATO that Putin’s Russia is the definition of a dictator led rouge state whose ambition to emulate Peter the Great knows no bounds.
    Also stand by for the defining silence or obfuscation of the ANC – certainly no running to the ICJ in this matter!

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Such a tragedy for the decent other Russia and the long-suffering and highly-abused population!! This is Putin’s work and orders – anyone who dares to oppose him, challenge him or not tow the line is murdered with the utmost of ease, and with absolutely zero accountability or consequences. Navalny, Magnitsky, Prigozhin, many opposition figures and journalists etc. – murdered!! No doubt the vile and odious Lavrov, Peskov and Kremlin will go into overdrive to lie, deny, misinform, distort etc. as is in their DNA. Masters of deception, propaganda and outright lies and falsehoods! And Cyril, our spineless, useless and hypocritical president, along with his hideous party, won’t utter a word as they kowtow to their master’s voice. Their silence in this matter will be damning while he selectively pontificates on human rights, freedom etc.

  • R IA says:

    That is just so sad. Maybe it will spur his supporters on to protest even more. Can’t blame them for being afraid. What a terrible regime to live under.

  • Avu Azahc says:

    ANC must be impressed by their cruel master. Maybe that’s what Mbalula and his cronies wanna learn about dealing with opposition parties. Anyway another reason to vote out ANC this year once and for all.

  • Thinker and Doer says:

    This is terrible news, to lose a leader of immense courage and conscience, who are greatly needed in these very uncertain and troubling times. I cannot fathom how those in Russia who are trying to maintain some semblance of an opposition are feeling. This starkly highlights also the regimes that the ANC Government is supporting and aligning the country with, which infuriating, while pretending to be to be advocating human rights. It also highlights the actions that authoritarian regimes are feeling confident to exercise in an an increasing number of countries. Condolences to Mr Navalny’s family, and those who have been working with him to promote democracy, justice and human rights in Russia.

  • Johann Olivier says:

    Well … Minister Pandor … what now? Righteous outrage, I trust. I absolutely approve of South Africa’s appeal to the ICJ, but am only too aware that it was an exercise of breathtaking hypocrisy & cynicism.

  • Craig Ulyate says:

    Disgusting. His assassination (not death) should be elevated to that of a saint. How are the people ok with all going on in Russia and comrade countries. I hope the army turns and eats its head.

  • Justin Hall says:

    Putin just killed his Mandela, where’s the ANC now?

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    Maybe he died knowing that Fikile and his fellow clowns were in town
    Seriously, condolences to the family of a brave man who died for his beliefs


    The silence from CR, Pandor and the yellow Gucci tellytubby will be deafning.

  • Derek Jones says:

    And our ANC government loves Putin. Power and greed is all they care about.

  • Bob Kuhn says:

    Putin is a really nasty piece of work!

  • mtimkuj says:

    Putin brooks no challenge to his power, within Russia. Not so long ago it was that leader of the Wagner Group, who after challenging Putin’s authority died in a mysterious plane “crash”.

  • Vanessa R says:

    This feels hits deep, its so wrong, out of words…

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