Alexei Navalny died this Friday morning. President Vladimir Putin’s main political opponent.

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He was serving a 19-year prison sentence for crimes considered politically motivated.

President Vladimir Putin’s main political opponent, Alexei Navalny, died this Friday morning (16) in a penitentiary in Russia. According to a Russian state news outlet, Navalny did not feel well during a walk and lost consciousness almost immediately. A medical team tried to revive him, but to no avail.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died suddenly this Friday (16) in the Arctic prison, where he had been since December last year, according to the country’s prison services.

Resuscitation procedures

“The necessary resuscitation procedures were carried out, which did not yield any results. The emergency medical team confirmed the death of the convict. The causes of death are being investigated,” says the official statement on the death of 47-year-old Navalny.

The note details that, after walking through the IK-3 penitentiary, in the town of Jarp (autonomous district of Yamalia-Nenetsia), the opposition politician “felt bad”, and “lost consciousness”.

Emergency medical teams went to the prison to treat Navalny and the prison services announced the sending of a commission of specific employees and doctors from its central apparatus in Moscow to clarify the causes and circumstances of the inmate’s death.

Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmish, stated that the opponent’s supporters still do not have confirmation of the death and that his lawyer will soon leave for Yamalia-Nenetsia.

Convictions and political persecution

The activist was serving almost 30 years in prison for several crimes that he denied having committed against Putin’s government, including “creating a group to finance extremist activities”. This is because Navalny disclosed an alleged corruption network involving the Kremlin in his organization, the Fund to Fight Corruption (FBK), created in 2011 and banned from operating for more than two years.

The FBK was highly contested and also criticized by the Kremlin for denouncing the illicit enrichment of high-ranking officials, including the President of Russia himself, whom he accused in 2021 of having an immense palace on the shores of the Black Sea.

He was serving nine years in prison when Russian courts imposed a new sentence, increasing the sentence to almost 30 years. The activist accused the Russian government of censorship and forging evidence to incriminate him.

Navalny, who returned to Russia in 2021 after being poisoned the previous year – according to his allies, by the Federal Security Service -, was transferred from prison after announcing a campaign against the re-election of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in power since 2000 .

This process of transfer to another prison, also known as “etapirovanie”, can last weeks, during which the prisoner is constantly kept incommunicado. Both the United States, the European Union (EU) and Amnesty International (AI) expressed their concern about the fate of Navalny, the Kremlin’s number one enemy.

On December 7, Navalny called from the detention center for Russians to vote against Putin in the March 17, 2024 elections.

Navalny also announced the launch of a website that called on Russians to support any presidential candidate except Putin.

Prison in the Arctic

In December last year, Navalny was transferred from a prison in the Vladimir region, less than 200 kilometers from Moscow, to a prison in the Arctic Circle, close to the Ural mountain range.

The city of Jarp, which has around six thousand inhabitants, is almost two thousand kilometers from Moscow or around 45 hours by train from the Russian capital.

Jarp is less than 50 kilometers from Salekhard, the administrative capital of this territory that has an area larger than that of France, but is inhabited by just half a million inhabitants.

According to one of his collaborators in exile, Ivan Zhdanov, the prison is named after “Polar Wolf” and is considered one of the furthest from civilization in the entire country.

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