/ 19 February 2024

Putin under pressure over Navalny’s death

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty

The Squiz

Russia is under pressure to release the body of Alexei Navalny – one of President Vladimir Putin’s staunchest critics – after he died in a remote Arctic jail on Friday. Officials say he suffered from “sudden death syndrome” – aka an unexplained cardiac arrest – after collapsing during a walk at the infamous Polar Wolf penal colony. His mother Lyudmila Navalnaya was turned away from a morgue and told a second post-mortem was needed when she tried to reclaim his body on the weekend. His supporters say authorities are trying to “cover traces” of foul play. 

Who was he?

The 47yo anti-corruption investigator was Russia’s most prominent opposition figure who ran exposés on Putin and his inner circle, despite being repeatedly jailed since 2011 and barred from running in the 2018 presidential election. Navalny had a huge social media presence and was popular particularly young Russians who want Putin and his cronies gone. He gained global attention in 2020 after he was poisoned with a nerve agent after falling ill during a flight to Moscow in what his supporters say was an assassination attempt. After recovering, he returned to Russia in 2021 and was immediately jailed – a calculated move addressed in the Oscar-winning documentary Navalny. A series of “politically motivated” convictions for extremism and terrorism followed that saw him moved around several high-security jails, with his team only locating him at the Arctic IK-3 penal colony in December.

So that’s that? 

Well, Navalny’s wife Yulia says she can’t be sure her husband is dead because “Putin and his government … lie incessantly” – but she says Putin should be held accountable if he is. Whether that’s possible is in doubt because since the war on Ukraine, there’s been an even bigger crackdown by the Russian Government on dissent, with Putin labelling non-supporters as “traitors”. But for his part, Navalny expected to die for his actions and recorded a message encouraging his supporters to continue the fight – including through his Anti-Corruption Foundation – saying they are “not allowed to give up” and that if he was killed it meant they are “incredibly strong”. As they have in big numbers in the past, Navalny’s supporters have protested across Europe and in Russia, where dozens of demonstrators were arrested over the weekend. 

Know someone who'd be interested in this story? Click to share...

The Squiz Today

Your shortcut to being informed, we've got your news needs covered.

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

Quick, agenda-free news that doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.