Putin’s biggest critic is dead. What was Alexei Navalny’s cause of death?

Russia’s Opposition leader Alexei Navalny died in jail at 47. Russia's prison service said his cause of death is "being established.”

Russia’s Opposition leader Alexei Navalny died in jail yesterday. He was 47.

Many western leaders have said the Russian Government is responsible for his death.

Here’s what you need to know.

Who was Navalny?

Alexei Navalny led the political opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He first rose to prominence in the 2000s for blogging online about the corruption he believed to be widespread in Russia.

In 2011, he told Reuters: “Corruption is the foundation of contemporary Russia, it is the foundation of Mr Putin’s political power… I would like to be president, but there are no elections in Russia.”

In the last presidential election in 2018, Navalny was formally barred from running due to a fraud conviction, which was widely viewed as politically motivated.

In 2020, Navalny became violently ill after boarding a flight to Moscow. He was treated by doctors in Germany and the German Government later announced he had been poisoned in an attempt to silence him. Then-German leader Angela Merkel said it raised questions “only the Russian Government can answer”. Putin denied any involvement.

Since 2021, Navalny has been in prison serving multiple prison sentences, including a 19-year sentence for “extremism”. He said all the cases against him were fabricated.

He was a staunch opponent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and campaigned for it to end while in jail.

What was Alexei Navalny’s cause of death?

Alexei Navalny’s cause of death is not yet known.

His death was announced in a statement from the prison service of the Yamalo-Nenets region, where he was in jail. It said: “Convict Alexei Navalny felt unwell after a walk, almost immediately losing consciousness…

“All necessary resuscitation measures were carried out, which did not yield positive results. Doctors of the ambulance stated the death of the convict.

“The causes of death are being established.”

Representatives for Navalny said they can’t confirm his death, but that if he did die, they believe he was killed.

Global reaction

Many western world leaders have blamed Putin and his regime.

U.S. President Joe Biden said during a press conference shortly after Navalny’s death: “Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death… What has happened to Navalny is even more proof of Putin’s brutality. No one should be fooled.”

A statement from the European Union said: “He was slowly murdered by President Putin and his regime, who fear nothing more than dissent from their own people.”

Russian election

There is a presidential election in Russia next month. The country is run by an authoritarian regime, and therefore elections are widely accepted as undemocratic.

Without political opposition, Putin – who has been President since 2012 (and also between 2000 and 2008) – is almost certain to win.

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