Aleksei Navalny, Putin Critic, Dies in Prison, Russian Authorities Say

Aleksei A. Navalny, an anticorruption activist who for more than a decade led the political opposition in President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia, died Friday in a prison inside the Arctic Circle, according to Russian authorities.

His death was announced by Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service, which said that Mr. Navalny, 47, lost consciousness on Friday after taking a walk in the prison where he was moved late last year. He was last seen on Thursday, when he had appeared in a court hearing via video link, smiling behind the bars of a cell and making jokes.

Footage from the Russian news outlet SOTA shows Aleksei Navalny laughing and making jokes behind bars during his last court appearance via video link.CreditCredit…SOTAVISION, via Reuters

Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s longtime chief of staff, said he was not yet ready to accept the news that Mr. Navalny was dead. “We have no reason to believe state propaganda,” Volkov wrote on the social platform X. “If this is true, then it’s not ‘Navalny died,’ but ‘Putin killed Navalny,’ and only that. But I don’t trust them one penny.”

Mr. Navalny had been serving multiple sentences that would most likely have kept him in prison until at least 2031 on charges that his supporters say were largely fabricated in an effort to muzzle him. Despite increasingly harsh conditions, including repeated stints in solitary confinement, he maintained a presence on social media, while members of his team continued to publish investigations into Russia’s corrupt elite from exile.

Mr. Navalny was given a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence in February 2021 after returning to Russia from Germany, where he had been recovering from being poisoned with a nerve agent the previous August. In March 2022, he received a nine-year sentence for embezzlement and fraud in a trial that international observers denounced as “politically motivated” and a “sham.” And in August 2023, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison for “extremism.”

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