Putin’s Critic & Russian Opposition Leader Dies In Prison, Cause Being Investigated: Reports

One of Russia’s most fierce Opposition leaders and a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin for the past decade, Alexei Navalny, passed away while in a prison in the Arctic Circle, according to Russian news agency TASS. Navalny was serving a 19-year prison sentence on charges widely seen as politically motivated, reported British media website BBC. In the latter part of last year, he was transferred to an Arctic penal colony known for its harsh conditions.

The prison service in the Yamalo-Nenets district revealed that Navalny fell ill after a walk on Friday. According to the prison authorities’ statement, he “almost immediately lost consciousness”, BBC reported. Following the incident, an emergency medical team was promptly summoned. The medics attempted to resuscitate him but failed to bring him to consciousness.

“The emergency doctors declared the prisoner dead. The cause of death is being established,” the prison service was quoted as saying.

Navalny’s lawyer, Leonid Solovyov, refrained from issuing immediate comments to the Russian media. The circumstances surrounding Navalny’s demise are currently under investigation.

The 47-year-old, widely considered a political prisoner, was known for his anti-corruption campaigns against the Russian government. His team reached out to the public mainly through YouTube and organised protests across the country. He published investigative content against high-ranking government officials of Russia and the ruling party, United Russia.

Moscow said it did not have any information on the cause of Navalny’s death. Putin’s spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said that the Russian president had been apprised of the incident.

In December last year, Navalny had become untraceable from a prison in the Vladimir region. He was serving a 30-year imprisonment over extremism and fraud allegations. He said that this was the ruling party’s revenge against him for leading the anti-Kremlin movement in the 2010s, reported The Guardian. He also said that he would not be freed till Putin was in power.