Alexei Navalny, Outspoken Putin Critic, Has Died

( — Long-imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny died on Friday in the Arctic penal colony in the Yamal-Nenets region, CBS News reported.

The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service claimed that Navalny grew ill after a walk and lapsed into unconsciousness. An ambulance was dispatched, but emergency workers were unable to revive him.

Kira Yarmysh, a spokeswoman for Navalny, confirmed his death on Saturday and claimed that the longtime critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin had been “murdered.”

Yarmysh said Navalny’s mother received a note informing her that her 47-year-old son had died at 2:17 p.m. on Friday.

When his mother arrived at the penal colony on Saturday, prison officials said Navalny’s death was due to “sudden death syndrome,” according to the director of Navalny’s anti-corruption group, Ivan Zhdanov.

Navalny’s group initially doubted the penitentiary service’s report of his death.

His chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, said in a Friday post on X that his team did not believe the Russian propaganda. He said if Navalny was dead, then Vladimir Putin killed him.

Just one day before his death, Navalny appeared via video link in a Russian court where he was seemingly healthy and cheerful, even joking with the judge, leading some to question the veracity of the official report.

The response from the Biden administration was swift.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan described Navalny’s death as a “terrible tragedy” and said the US would determine next steps after receiving further information.

In a press conference at the White House on Friday, President Biden blamed President Putin for Navalny’s death. Expressing outrage at the news, the president said it was further proof of Vladimir Putin’s “brutality.”

Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2021 for fraud, parole violations, and contempt of court. That sentence was later increased by 19 years in August of last year.

In 2022, the US State Department classified Navalny’s imprisonment as “politically motivated.”

While attending the Munich Security Conference on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters that Navalny had been “killed by Putin.”

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