“Not dead, but murdered.” Russia and the world mourn Alexei Navalny
“Not dead, but murdered.” Russia and the world mourn Alexei Navalny
17 February 2024, 3:01

Flowers and portraits of Alexei Navalny are placed at the monument to the victims of political repressions following, Saint Petersburg / Reuters

Shortly after the announcement of Alexei Navalny’s untimely death in his prison in the Russian Arctic, memorial events commenced in numerous cities both within Russia and abroad, paying homage to the politician. In Russia, citizens laid flowers at local monuments honoring victims of Soviet political repression. The authorities hastily removed these floral tributes and documented the identities of those who came to honor Navalny, in some cases controlling the number of attendees. Internationally, members of the Russian diaspora assembled outside Russian embassies and consulates in various cities, holding posters that blamed Vladimir Putin and bringing flowers in memory of Navalny.

On Friday afternoon, the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in the Russian Arctic announced Alexei Navalny’s death in his prison in a remote village of Kharp. According to the statement, he became ill after a usual walk, and resuscitation efforts failed.

People at the Catalunya square, Barcelona, Spain. Photo: Reuters/Nacho Doce

The precise reasons for Navalny’s death are unclear. The state-run RT channel attributed it to a “detached blood clot,” a cause frequently mentioned in prisoners’ death certificates when there’s no intent to investigate further, as noted by human rights advocate Anna Karetnikova.

A person wrapped in a banner with the image of Navalny in front of the Russian consulate at Europa square, in Munich, Germany. Photo: Reurters/Wolfgang Rattay

Indeed, Navalny’s health issues have been well-documented.

The opposition leader was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent, in Omsk in 2020, necessitating prolonged medical treatment, with state security operatives implicated in this assassination attempt. Upon his return to Russia from treatment in Germany, Navalny was arrested at a Moscow airport and sent to a penal colony where he had no access to civilian medical care.

A protester holds a picture of Alexei Navalny at a protest opposite the Russian Embassy in London, Great Britain. Photo: Reuters

By March 2021, Navalny lost the ability to put weight on one leg due to “traveling in a cramped position” during court transfers. He developed spinal issues after being transferred to a Vladimir colony. In December 2022, after Navalny complained, he received unspecified injections. In January 2023, he fell ill after sharing a cell with a roommate “who had issues with personal hygiene.” Throughout 2023, he struggled to receive dental care.

A woman lays flowers at the monument to the victims of political repressions, Moscow, Russia. Photo: Reuters

In early December 2023, Navalny lost consciousness due to dizziness. He was soon transferred to penal colony #3 in the Arctic village of Kharp, a three-week journey he described as “quite exhausting.” During his imprisonment, Navalny was frequently placed in solitary confinement cells lacking basic comforts, spending a total of 295 days there.

Outside Russian embassy in Prague, Czechia. Photo: David Frenkel / Mediazona

The Russian government has largely remained silent in the aftermath of Navalny’s death. President Putin, informed of the event, failed to mention his opponent in a subsequent public appearance, while appearing jovial during his work trip. Meanwhile, officials and state media suggest that the West somehow benefits from Navalny’s death.

By the fence of the Russian Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia. Photo: Vahram Baghdasaryan/AP

Alexei’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, was at the Munich Security Conference. “I call upon the international community to unite and defeat this evil, the horrifying regime that is now in Russia. This regime and Vladimir Putin must be held accountable for the terrible things they are doing to my country,” she said in a statement. “We cannot trust Putin’s government, they always lie. But if it’s true, I want Putin, his entire entourage, his friends, his government, to know that they will be held accountable for what they have done to our country, to my family, and to my husband.”

Tula, memorial to victims of political repressions. Photo: Mediazona

Following Alexei Navalny’s death, international leaders swiftly extended condolences to his family and friends, directly assigning responsibility. US President Joe Biden explicitly stated, “Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” labeling the incident as further “proof of Putin’s brutality.” Although Biden had previously cautioned of “devastating” consequences during a 2021 Geneva meeting with Putin if Navalny were to die, he refrained from outlining specific actions the US could take now. Instead, he mentioned the substantial impacts already faced by Russia, including sanctions and military losses stemming from its invasion of Ukraine.

People holds a portrait of Alexei Navalny before the Russian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland. Photo: Czarek Sokolowski/AP

Head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement: “The news of Alexei Navalny death is horrible, but it also shows that Putin fears nothing more than the dissent from his own people. Putin and his friends fear nothing more than people that stand up, that speak up. That fight for freedom and that fight against corruption. Like Alexei Navalny did it.”

A woman cries as she places flowers outside the Russian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo: Victor R. Caivano/AP

“The entire Yale World Fellows family is heartbroken by reports that Alexey Navalny, courageous Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption dissident, has died,” stated director of the Yale University-based leadership program Emma Sky. Navalny was a Yale World Fellow from the class of 2010.

A woman holds a magazine with a portrait of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in front of the Russian Embassy in Madrid, Spain. Photo: Manu Fernandez/AP

According to OVD-Info, a human rights tracker, there were at least 102 arrests in eight cities during memorial events for Alexei Navalny on February 16.

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