Sunday, April 14, 2024

Navalny snuffed out – VoxEurop

On 16 February, Russia’s federal penitentiary service announced the death of Alexei Navalny, the leading political opponent of Vladimir Putin, in the Siberian penal colony where he had been held since August 2023. The cause of death is not yet known. Navalny, 47, had been sentenced to 19 years’ imprisonment for “extremism” and nine years’ imprisonment for “embezzlement” and “contempt of court”, charges considered political in nature. Navalny’s death comes a month before Russia’s presidential election, from which most of Putin’s opponents have been ousted.

In August 2020, Navalny was hospitalised in Siberia after being poisoned with novichok – an agent commonly used by both Soviet and post-Soviet Russian operatives – as he left a meeting. Treated in Berlin, he was arrested on his return to Moscow in January 2021 and sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violating the terms of a previous sentence for embezzlement.

Those close to Navalny regularly denounced the conditions in which he was detained. Navalny’s investigations into the corruption of the Russian regime and its leaders clearly irritated the Kremlin, and he accused them of wanting to get rid of a troublesome adversary. This accusation is now echoed by most Western leaders, who hold the Russian authorities responsible for his death. Navalny is the latest in a long list of Putin critics to disappear in murky circumstances, including Anna Politikovskaya, Boris Nemtsov, Natalia Estemirova, Alexander Litvinenko and many others.

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