‘Putin Did This’: Leading Russian Dissident Alexei Navalny Dies in Arctic Prison Aged 47

Alexei Navalny, the most prominent Russian opposition leader to Russian President Vladimir Putin, collapsed and died on Friday at the age of 47.


Alexei Navalny, the most prominent Russian opposition leader to Russian President Vladimir Putin, collapsed and died on Friday at the age of 47. Navalny died at “Polar Wolf”, the Arctic prison where he had been sentenced to a thirty-year prison term.

  • Navalny was the leading foe of Putin’s dictatorial regime, and his death robs pro-democracy Russians of their fiercest advocate just weeks before Putin is set to win another term in an “election” where none of his opponents are permitted to compete. 
  • Navalny rose to prominence by bravely denouncing the “crooks and thieves” responsible for the widespread corruption that has been a hallmark of the Putin regime.
  • Russian security services claim Navalny fell ill after taking a walk in the penal colony, fell to the ground and died. The Russian government claims the cause of death is “being established.”
  • The death of Navalny leaves anti-Putin forces in Russia leaderless as most other Putin foes or pro-democracy activists are dead, in prison, or in exile. 
  • President Joe Biden and other western leaders were unanimous in blaming Putin for the death of his chief foe. As Biden put it, “there is no doubt that the death of Nalvany was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did.” 
  • “Putin did this. The same Putin who Donald Trump praises and defends,” Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley posted on X.” Haley added later, “Putin murdered his political opponent and Trump hasn’t said a word after he said he would encourage Putin to invade our allies. He has, however, posted 20+ times on social media about his legal drama and fake polls.” At time of publication, Trump still has not commented on Navalny’s death.
  • Navalny’s death follows those of Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader murdered steps from the Kremlin in 2015; Sergei Magnitsky, the anticorruption whistleblower killed in prison in 2009; Alexander Litvinenko, a dissident poisoned with polonium in 2006; Anna Politkovskaya, shot dead in her apartment complex in 2006; and countless other opponents of Vladimir Putin widely considered to be murdered by his regime.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • CNN reported “The death of Putin’s most high-profile critic is likely to send shockwaves through parts of Russian society, and punctuates a merciless crackdown on dissidence in Russia that has accelerated during its war with Ukraine.”
  • “Navalny’s allies have long raised concerns about his health and poor conditions in jail, where they said he had to spend many days in crammed “punishment cells” for the most minor of conduct violations,” NBC News observed. “But he appeared healthy as he addressed a court via video link from the penal colony Thursday, laughing and cracking jokes.”
  • The New York Times recalled a previous attempt on Navalny’s life by the Russian security services. In August 2020, Navalny was poisoned by Novichok, a common tactic of Russian intelligence, and nearly died. Four months after the attempt on his life, Navalny released a video of himself talking to a senior Russian officer who he duped into admitting that the Russian state had plotted his assassination.


  • “I want Putin and his entire circle to know that they’ll bear responsibility for what they did with our country and my family and my husband,” Navaly’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, told the Munich Security Conference after his death was announced according to the Wall Street Journal. She added, “And this day will come very soon.”
  • “Navalny’s defiant stand in opposition to the corrupt Putin regime is the definition of courage. He used every tool at his disposal to expose their corruption, their lavish lifestyles and the way they perverted Christian faith to guard against criticism,” wrote Ben Domenech in his newsletter, The Transom. “This killing is a message to the West and to the Munich Security Conference, where Navalny’s widow just spoke, that Putin does not fear any consequences for his actions, in any context.”
  • “Navalny’s fate should shame those who establish defamatory equivalences between modern America and Putin’s Russia, but it won’t. If they had the capacity for that corrective emotion, they long ago subordinated it to their desire for political influence,” wrote National Review’s Noah Rothman. “After all, they’re free to say and think what they like — an aspiration Alexei Navalny shared and for which he gave his life. If we still can recognize courage, that’s what it really looks like.”

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© Dominic Moore, 2023