Home World Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny dies in jail, prison service says

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny dies in jail, prison service says

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Jailed Russian opposition figure and outspoken Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, who made global headlines when he was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020, has died aged 47, the Russian prison service said.

Navalny had long been a thorn in the side of President Vladimir Putin, exposing corruption in high places, campaigning against the ruling United Russia party, and orchestrating some of the biggest anti-government protests seen in recent years.

He returned to Russia in 2021 and was swiftly arrested on charges he dismissed as politically motivated. He has been incarcerated ever since. His supporters claim his arrest was a politically motivated attempt to stifle his criticism of Putin.

Navalany’s death comes shortly before Russia’s presidential election, set to take place on March 17, where Putin will bid for his fifth term in a move that could see him retain power until at least 2030.

Navalny was sentenced to 19 years in prison in August, after he was found guilty of creating an extremist community, financing extremist activists and various other crimes. He was already serving sentences of 11-and-a-half years in a maximum security facility on fraud and other charges he denies.

Four months later, his lawyers said they had lost contact with Navalny, who was believed to be imprisoned in a penal colony about 150 miles east of Moscow. The White House at the time said it was “deeply concerned” about the reports of Navalny’s disappearance.

He failed to appear at several scheduled court hearings in December. His legal team said on December 22 that he’d been missing for 17 days. “Navalny has never been hidden for so long,” Navalny’s team said in a Telegram post.

After filing 680 requests to locate Navalny, his team announced on December 25 that they had “found” him more than a thousand miles away at the IK-3 penal colony in Kharp, known as “Polar Wolf.”

“The conditions there are harsh, with a special regime in the permafrost zone. It is very difficult to get there, and there are no letter delivery systems,” said Ivan Zhdanov, director of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

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