Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny dies in Arctic prison

Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has died in the Arctic prison where he was serving a 19-year sentence, the federal prison services (FSIN) announced on Friday.

“On 16 February 2024, in penitentiary centre No. 3, the prisoner Navalny A.A. felt unwell after a walk (...) Cause of death is being established,” the FSIN of the Arctic region of Yamal said in a statement.

Navalny reportedly felt ill after a walk and then lost consciousness. Medical personnel tried to resuscitate him without success, the announcement said. “The patient was pronounced dead by the emergency doctors.”

The 47-year-old activist was serving a 19-year prison sentence for “founding and funding an extremist organisation” in a remote Arctic penal colony. His multiple trials had been widely denounced as political and a way of punishing him for his opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Putin has been informed of the death, according to his spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov. 

Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo described Navalny as “an advocate for democracy and human rights”.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “His tragic death again underscores why we will continue to support #Ukraine. Russia will not prevail in Ukraine. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of @navalny and all brave Russian political prisoners.”


Alexei Navalny on a screen via a video link from the IK-3 penal colony during a hearing of his complaint on restrictions placed on which books and reading material he can access in prison, at the Supreme Court in Moscow, 11 January 2024 © PHOTO VERA SAVINA / AFP

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