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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies in prison

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies in prison 


Wen-Qing(Sarah) Jiang 

February 17, 2024 


On 16 February, Alexei Navalny, the former Russian anti-corruption blogger and opposition activist, died in the IK-3 penal colony (Correctional Facility No. 3), Kharp, while serving his 19-year sentence. His passing was confirmed by the 'Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District' where he was kept captive since December 2023. 


Prior to Navalny's death on Friday, he was reported to feel "unwell" after his walk and went unconscious while the prison service called for an emergency medical team, but in vain. Moreover, the cause of death of Navalny remains unclear, commented Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, and is still currently under investigation. 


Nevertheless, U.S. President Biden firmly believes in the direct involvement of Putin in Navalny's death, claiming that it was "the consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did". Russian independent media Meduza also showcased the headline that "Alexei Navalny was killed." 


The poisoning in August 2020 


The downfall of Navalny can be dated back to August 2020 when he collapsed on a plane back from Siberia. Navalny had an emergency landing and was sent to a hospital in Omsk and was later transferred to a hospital in Berlin, Germany. Despite the severity of Navalny's condition, the Russian doctors claimed not to find any traces of poisons in his blood, whereas the test results from independent laboratories said otherwise. Even more shockingly, the poison that was used on Navalny has been confirmed to be Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent that resembled the poison used on a Russian spy back in 2018. 


According to a report of the European Parliament, the potential poisoning of Navalny fitted the pattern of "harassment and violence against Russian opposition figures." Despite a slim chance of proving the direct involvement of the Kremlin in the continuous harassment of Russian opposition figures, the fact that Novichok was hardly accessible to "non-state players" suggests a high chance of state involvement. 


Navalny's return to Russia 


Navalny's tragic journey did not end with his poisoning. After surviving and recovering in Germany, Navalny returned home to Russia in January 2021 and was welcomed with an arrest at the passport control due to his failure to meet the terms of his previous parole when he was in Germany, which later on became a three--and -a -half year jail sentence. Other charges were brought against him, leading to more than ten years of imprisonment.  


Russian media's response to Navalny's death 


Unsurprisingly, the Russian state-owned media, such as Rossiya 1, was trying to brush off the news by feeding the audience as little information as possible. According to BBC News, liberal politicians were being cut off while expressing their condolences to Navalny. 


Contrary to state-owned media outlets, social media such as X and Telegram covered the passing of Navalny in total length, making these media the go-to sources of the Russian Public. While former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky condemned Putin for his possible involvement, pro-government figures still insinuate Navalny's death to the West or Russian opposition.


Edited By: Josh Reidelbach


Photo: Meduza 

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