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Alexei Navalny Was Set To Be Freed In Prisoner Swap Before Death

Image Credit: navalny via Instagram

Alexei Navalny was going to be released in a prisoner swap, which would have seen him freed from prison and returned to his family in exchange for Russian prisoners that Putin wanted returned, before his death on 16 February, says his colleague, Maria Pevchikh.


The Russian opposition leader was set to be exchanged for Russian hitman, Vadim Krasikov, who had been jailed for life in Germany three years ago for the murder of a former Chechen rebel in Berlin. 


Russia has been trying to include Krasikov’s name on a prisoner exchange list for some time, with Moscow previously requesting that he be returned in a swap for former US marine, Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia after being accused of spying.


The US was unable to deliver this exchange at the time and instead only swapped Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, for Brittney Griner, an American Basketball star.


Two US citizens who are in prison in Russia were to be involved in the current deal also, although the US had made no formal offer.


Pevchikh did not name the two US citizens set to be involved however it is believed the US is trying to return Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and Whelan.


Rumours swirled over the last several months that Western leaders might have included Navalny’s name on a list of prisoners set to be part of a prisoner exchange between Russia and the West.


However, Pevchikh’s claims have not been confirmed, with Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, telling the Financial Times that they were unaware of such plans.  


Pevchikh claimed that US and German officials were part of discussions for the prisoner swap. A spokesperson for the German Government confirmed they were aware of the ongoing talks but refused to comment further.


In a video posted to the late Kremlin critic’s YouTube channel, Pevchikh said that the negotiations for a prisoner swap had been ongoing for two years and were coming to a close.


Navalny was found dead in the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, where he had been held since December 2023.


The prison announced that Navalny had collapsed after a walk and had received immediate medical attention, with resuscitation measures being carried out with no success.


The circumstances surrounding Navalny’s death remain unclear however, world leaders have accused Putin of being behind it despite the Kremlin denying any involvement.


Pevchikh said that Putin did not want his critic to be freed and took matters into his own hands to see that the prisoner swap did not go ahead.


Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmish, made a social media post on Monday stating his allies were seeking a venue where supporters could say farewell later this week.


If the event is approved to go ahead it is expected to be heavily monitored by authorities. More than 400 Russians have been arrested for laying flowers following Navalny’s passing.

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