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Putin opponent dies suddenly, Russian officials say

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)
February 16, 2024

Russia’s prison agency announced the sudden death of Alexei Navalny, a leading critic and opposition leader against Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Friday.

According to The Associated Press, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service reported that Navalny, who was held at the IK-3 penal colony in Kharp, was unwell and eventually lost consciousness after taking a walk on Friday. While an ambulance was reportedly called to the scene, the 47-year-old opposition leader was not able to be revived. The Federal Penitentiary Service noted that Navalny’s cause of death was still “being established.”

Kyra Yarmsysh, a Navalny spokesperson, noted in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that “we have no confirmation of this yet” and “Alexei’s lawyer is currently on his way to Kharp” in Russia.

The Associated Press reported that Navalny was a fierce critic of Putin and led multiple protests against Putin’s administration before being imprisoned in the nation’s Arctic penal colony with a 19-year prison sentence. News of Navalny’s death comes less than a month away from Russia’s upcoming election, which is expected to allow Putin to continue leading Russia for another six-year term.

Appearing on “Fox & Friends” on Friday, Fox News contributor Dan Hoffman claimed Navalny’s death was “Vladimir Putin’s decision, for sure.” Hoffman added, “I think Vladimir Putin sees this killing, murder of Navalny first and foremost to demonstrate for his own people, don’t mess with me as the elections approach.”

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According to Fox News, Vice President Kamala Harris addressed reports of Navalny’s death on Friday, describing his death as “terrible news” that the administration was “working to confirm.”

“My prayers are with his family, including his wife, Yulia, who is with us today. And if confirmed, this would be a further sign of Putin’s brutality,” Harris said. “Whatever story they tell, let us be clear: Russia is responsible. And we will have more to say on this later.”

During a conference in Germany on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also addressed reports of the Russian opposition leader’s death. He said that if Navalny’s death is confirmed, “His death in a Russian prison and the fixation and fear of one man only underscores the weakness and rot at the heart of the system that Putin has built. Russia is responsible for this.”