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Opposition Leader and Putin Critic Alexey Navalny Dies in Prison

Alexey Navalny, who was imprisoned in a penal colony in Russia’s Arctic Circle, has died, Russia’s prison service said on Friday.

Navalny, 47, was a fierce critic of Putin’s regime and his circle of cronies, and was serving a 19-year prison sentence, which was seen by many as politically motivated and aimed at stifling Putin’s critics and opposition.  

The Russian prison service system said today that Navalny “felt unwell” after a walk on Friday, and “almost immediately lost consciousness.”

“The emergency doctors declared the prisoner dead. Cause of death is being established,” Russia said.  

The death of Navalny comes a month before Russia is slated to hold a presidential election, in which Putin is sure to win another six years in office, after banning opposition candidates from running in the poll.

Navalny was last seen a day ago, the BBC reports.

Novaya Gazeta reported that Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, wrote in a Facebook post on Friday: “I don't want to hear any condolences. We saw him in prison on the (Feb) 12, in a meeting. He was alive, healthy and happy.”

Alexey Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote on X that the team “have no confirmation of this yet. Alexey's lawyer is currently on his way to Kharp. As soon as we have some information, we will report on it.”

World leaders also reacted to the news of Navalny’s death.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said from Munich, Germany, that if confirmed, Navalny’s “death in a Russian prison and the fixation and fear of one man only underscores the weakness and rot at the heart of the system that Putin has built. Russia is responsible for this.”

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UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron wrote on X,

“Navalny fought bravely against corruption. Putin’s Russia fabricated charges against him, poisoned him, sent him to an arctic penal colony & now he has tragically died. Putin should be accountable for what has happened - no one should doubt the dreadful nature of his regime.” 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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