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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies in jail

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Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, tragically collapsed and died on Friday after taking a walk at the “Polar Wolf” Arctic penal colony, where he was serving a lengthy prison sentence, as confirmed by the Russian prison service.

Navalny, a 47-year-old former lawyer, gained prominence over a decade ago for his blogs exposing widespread corruption and opulence among Russia’s elite class, whom he famously referred to as “crooks and thieves.”

The Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District stated that Navalny felt unwell after his walk at the IK-3 penal colony in Kharp, located approximately 1,900 km northeast of Moscow within the Arctic Circle. He lost consciousness almost immediately thereafter.

“All necessary resuscitation measures were carried out, which did not yield positive results,” the prison service stated, adding that the exact cause of death is still under investigation.

President Vladimir Putin was informed of Navalny’s death, which triggered a wave of outrage from Western leaders, with some holding the Russian government responsible.

Navalny’s supporters expressed disbelief and suspicion, with Navalny’s aide Leonid Volkov alleging on social media that Russian authorities had effectively admitted to his killing in prison.

Western officials praised Navalny’s courage as a champion of freedom, with some directly accusing the Kremlin, although evidence was not provided.

Navalny’s lawyer was en route to the prison in Kharp where his client was serving multiple sentences totaling over 30 years.

Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, stated that she had no confirmation of his death but believed that the conditions of his detention likely contributed to it.

Navalny, who survived a poisoning attempt with a nerve agent in 2020, had returned to Russia from Germany, where he received medical treatment, and was subsequently arrested.

Despite being viewed as a potential future leader of Russia, Navalny’s movement was outlawed, and most of his senior allies fled the country for Europe.

Navalny’s outspoken criticism of Putin’s regime and his exposure of corruption earned him both praise and condemnation. He remained steadfast in his opposition despite facing numerous arrests and threats.

In his final message on Telegram, Navalny expressed his love for his wife, Yulia, underscoring the personal toll of his political activism amidst ongoing persecution.

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