Prominent Opposition Leader 'Dies' In Jail

Alexei Navalny, a strong critic of President Vladimir Putin, died after a walk in the Arctic Circle prison

Prominent Opposition Leader 'Dies' In Jail

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has been incarcerated in an Arctic Circle prison, died on Friday, the Russian prison service has said.

The 47-year-old politician, an ardent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, collapsed after a walk at the 'Polar Wolf' arctic penal colony managed by Russia. Navalny was imprisoned after being sentenced to serve 30 years in prison.

According to a statement released by the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Navalny had gone for a walk at the IK-3 penal colony in Kharp, located around 1,900 km (1,200 miles) northeast of Moscow. Upon returning from the walk, he felt unwell and lost consciousness almost immediately. He is said to have died shortly afterwards despite the efforts of the prison's medical team and ambulance staff to resuscitate him, the prison service said.

His wife Yula, however, expressed doubts over reports of Navalny's death, claiming that Putin is known to "lie incessantly".

She added that if the reports were true, she would hold Putin, his government and his friends responsible.

Navalny's chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, said that the statement should not be read as "Navalny died"; rather, it should be seen as Putin killed Navalny". 

Volkov noted that in August 2020, Navalny and and his wife Yula were poisoned in Siberia with nerve agents like the one which are available to states. Navalny and Yula were taken to Germany for treatment. However, he returned to Russia in 2021. He was later arrested and sentenced to 30 years.

Navalny's death paves the way for the 71-year-old Putin to continue as Russia's president well into 2030 (health permitting).