Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny Found Bruised in Arctic Morgue After Death

February 19, 2024 - Reading time: 3 minutes

The bruised body of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, has been discovered in a hospital morgue in the Arctic, two days after he died in a nearby prison.

A paramedic informed Russian opposition media that there were bruises on Navalny's head and chest when his body was brought into the Salekhard District Clinical Hospital. "Such injuries, described by those that saw them, appear from seizures," the unnamed paramedic told the exiled Novaya Gazette newspaper. "The person convulses, they try to restrain him, and bruises appear. They also said that he also had a bruise on his chest. That is, they still tried to resuscitate him, and he died, most likely, from cardiac arrest."

Prison officials stated that Navalny died on Friday after falling ill during a short walk at IK-3, a notoriously brutal prison in the Russian Arctic. His mother failed to locate his body at the morgue in Salekhard on Saturday and his colleagues at the Anti-Corruption Foundation accused the Russian authorities of a cover-up. Reporters said no autopsy had yet been performed. They also mentioned that two unscheduled flights from Moscow had landed on Saturday at Salekhard, possibly with autopsy specialists.

Unusual Circumstances and Autopsy Delays

Navalny was Vladimir Putin's most serious opponent. Western leaders have accused the Kremlin of murdering him. He was facing three decades in prison on various charges and had been transferred to IK-3 shortly before Christmas. David Lammy, Britain’s shadow foreign secretary, said on Sunday that Putin should face war crimes charges for the death of Navalny.

Navalny's untimely demise has sparked controversy and suspicion. Found in a hospital morgue in the Arctic, his body bore marks indicative of a struggle during a medical crisis. An experienced paramedic highlighted unusual circumstances around the handling of his body and noted injuries consistent with seizure-induced convulsions.

Navalny's mother faced misinformation regarding his body's location, while FSB officers' recent visit to the 'Polar Wolf' Arctic prison raises alarms. Human rights activists and global leaders are calling for a thorough investigation into the rapid release of official statements following Navalny's death.

An anonymous source revealed deviations from standard protocol in handling Navalny's body, raising questions about the true cause of his cardiac arrest. Despite indications of an attempt to resuscitate him, details remain scarce, and an official autopsy has yet to be conducted.

Public and International Reaction

Navalny's death has not only led to tributes but also intense scrutiny over the handling of his case by Russian authorities. With reports of prior FSB involvement and rapid official statements post-death, suspicions of premeditated actions have been amplified.

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.