Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies in prison, blames Putin for his death

February 17, 2024 - Reading time: 5 minutes

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny - a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin - has died, according to the country's prison service.

The jailed dissident, who had campaigned against official corruption and led major anti-Kremlin protests, was 47. Mr Putin, who is running for re-election in a month, has been informed of his death, according to the state news agency TASS.

Navalny's wife holds Putin 'personally liable'

While the cause of death remains unknown, Western leaders have made clear they hold the Russian regime ultimately responsible. The prison authorities said Mr Navalny felt unwell following a walk on Friday and lost consciousness at the "Polar Wolf" penal colony about 1,200 miles.

The death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has had a profound impact in Russia and around the world. Navalny's supporters are distraught at the loss of someone they saw as a symbol of hope for a democratic Russia. However, Navalny's death may not lead to large-scale protests in the short term due to fear of government crackdowns.

The loss of Navalny has left Russia's divided pro-democracy movement without its unifying figurehead. For some Russians, Navalny embodied the dream of a future free Russia. But in such a repressive political climate, few are willing to risk imprisonment or death to protest.

While Navalny had limited popularity outside of major cities like Moscow, he did help mobilize a new generation of politically active young people. His anti-corruption investigations also opened some eyes to government misconduct. However, state propaganda still influences many Russians who lack alternative viewpoints.

With Navalny now a martyr, the Russian government has sent a signal to other opposition figures—dissent will not be tolerated. Those who remain in Russia face an atmosphere of mounting fear and diminished hope for change, at least in the short term. However, Navalny's legacy lays the groundwork for a potential revival of the pro-democracy movement in years to come, led by youth that now see meaningful political participation as imperative.

Who is Yulia Navalnaya ?

Yulia Navalnaya is Alexei Navalny's wife. Some key details about her:

  • She married Alexei Navalny in 2000. They have two children together.
  • She has been involved in some of Navalny's political and anti-corruption campaigns over the years. However, she tends to remain out of the public spotlight.
  • Navalnaya was with Navalny when he was poisoned with a nerve agent in Siberia in 2020. She advocated for him to be transported to Germany for medical treatment.
  • After Navalny was imprisoned in early 2021 upon returning to Russia from Germany, Navalnaya became an important public figure advocating for his cause. She called for his release and led mass protests.
  • Navalnaya was allowed to visit Navalny in prison a few times. She provided updates to the media on his condition and message to supporters after these visits.
  • After Navalny's recent death in prison, Navalnaya made strong statements placing blame directly on Vladimir Putin and his government allies. She has vowed to continue her husband's work opposing the regime.

Who is Daria Navalnaya?

Daria Navalnaya is Alexei Navalny's daughter. Some key details:

  • Daria was born in 2001, making her currently 22 years old. She is the middle child - her brother Zakhar was born in 1999 and brother Ilya in 2009.
  • Daria has mostly stayed out of the spotlight while her father led the opposition movement in Russia. She kept a fairly low profile as an activist compared to her mother Yulia.
  • She studied in the United States at Stanford University for a time beginning in 2020, after her father's nerve agent poisoning.
  • After Alexei Navalny was imprisoned in early 2021, Daria spoke out publicly more often, advocating internationally for her father's cause.
  • She gave various media interviews condemning her father's harsh treatment and calling for world leaders to intervene to help free him from prison in Russia.
  • Following Navalny's death, Daria made social media posts honoring her father and directly blaming Vladimir Putin for his death. She shared memories and photos of time spent with her father.

So while less visible previously than her mother Yulia, it seems likely Daria Navalnaya will continue being an influential opposition activist in the wake of her father's passing, speaking out against Putin's regime on the world stage. She represents the future generation carrying on Navalny's work.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.