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Alexei Navalny Dead at 47 After Likely Russian Assassination

Brandt Kemmerer and Jack Striegel


Alexei Navalny was reported dead last week, on February 16th. His death has been the source of a major uproar among the Russian population. Since 2011, Navalny has been locked up numerous times for opposing election results and government officials. When he was close to getting out, his sentence was swiftly lengthened. His most recent arrest in 2023 led to a lengthy prison sentence that would inevitably lead to his death in prison. His death, rightfully believed to be staged by the Russian government, has caused a mass outbreak of protests throughout major Russian cities as the Russian government will not release his body to be publicly examined. 


Alexei’s political career began in 2000, after he joined the Russian United Democratic

Navalny at a protest in 2012

Party. However, his political activity remained relatively bleak until 2011. In December of that year, a major electoral dispute broke out after the parliamentary election results were made official. A protest of nearly 6,000 people ensued in Moscow, where Navalny, along with almost 300 others, were arrested. Navalny received 15 days of jail time under charges of “defying a governmental official.” Next year, following Vladimir Putin’s election in 2012, Navalny led another protest against the results that amassed roughly 17,000 people in Moscow.

Following Putin’s inauguration in the coming months, Navalny was arrested and was once again handed 15 days of jail time. 
Navalny at a political rally during his 2013 mayoral run for Moscow

His defiance of Putin’s regime didn’t stop there. After his release from jail, Navalny’s associates officially founded their political party, “The People’s Alliance.” Unfortunately, after multiple attempts to register the party, the Russian government denied them. Navalny changed the party’s name to “Progress Party” the following year and was almost immediately registered. After this, Navalny’s first significant political movement arose when he chose to run for the Moscow mayoral election. As usual, the day after he was registered to run for office, he was sentenced to five years in prison. The day after his sentence, he was released, which many speculate was to make the election seem more legitimate. 


Navalny had been serving a nine-year sentence on fraud and embezzlement charges in

Following his assassnation attempt in 2020, Navalny spent several weeks recovering in a German hospital

Russian prison but extended his stay after he decided he wanted to challenge Putin in the political field. Navalny was handed a 19-year sentence for challenging Putin; despite being locked up, Navalny remained an influential activist behind bars, and through his lawyers, he was able to voice his opinions. After the Kremlin decided they’ve had enough of Navalny in 2020, they wanted to kill him in prison; Navalny survived the poisoning attempt but had no such luck in February of 2024.


Navalny had survived many assassination attempts before eventually being killed; in 2017, he was attacked with a green dye substance that was said to have contained some type of unnamed chemical. The dye claimed 80% of his eyesight, but he regained it after some time. Navalny believed the assailant was ​​Aleksandr Petrunko, a man who had deep government ties, ultimately leading back to Putin. Navalny was hospitalized again in 2019 after an “allergic reaction” to chemicals; the allergic reaction was disputed by his doctors and assistants and was said to be the result of yet another chemical attack. In 2020, after Putin tried to take Navalny’s life for the third time, he was taken west to Germany and put into a medically induced coma so he could recover after unknowingly administering a new type of Novichok, a cholinesterase inhibitor. This chemical was not on the list of controlled chemicals by the Chemical Weapons Convention because it was so new. Navalny made a full recovery, was taken back to Russia as soon as he could, and was promptly incarcerated.


A very pixelated image of Alexei in a cell following his arrest in 2023

Navalny was a strong critic of Putin and the war with Ukraine, consistently posting to

Twitter/X and other social media outlets about the matter. Navalny also regularly shared his conditions in prison and criticized them, saying that Putin wanted them to be Stalin-like but was failing. In January of 2024, Navalny revealed his online political campaign intended to take down Putin. Navalny urged residents of Russia to make small daily contributions to his campaign to “resist a government that had taken a country hostage.” Navalny also added that there was no shame in opposing the government and that citizens who donated should not be intimidated by the government. Contrary to Navalny’s not overly successful campaign, he remained optimistic that the younger generations would support him and reclaim what he liked to call “the beautiful Russia of the future.”


Yulia addressing Alexei's supporters

Shortly after the announcement of Navalny’s death, his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, vowed to pick up where he left off. On February 19th, Navalny’s YouTube channel posted an uplifting message with his wife discussing future plans. Yulia stated, “I have no right to give up. I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny.” Along with this, she went on to attack the Russian government, claiming them to be responsible for the death of Alexei. The comments on her video show nothing but support from Russians, many encouraging her to bring justice and liberty to Russia. 


The death of Alexei Navalny should stand as an accurate representation of the incredibly lopsided-upside-down political landscape that exists in Russia. The assassination of Navalny is significant because he had a strong following of young voters in Russia and was well-liked in the West. Navalny's death has prompted protests throughout major cities in Russia. It will likely further Russia’s track record of not-so-great human rights incidents. Many countries around Russia and in the West allow criticism of leadership and politics. Though some countries frown upon it more than others, most will not kill you for it. The death of Navalny should draw massive attention from other countries and call Russia’s perception of leadership into question. Though it is sad that the Russian government most likely killed Navalny, and something should be done about it, nothing will likely be done because Russia is one of the major powers of the world and can get away with pretty much anything.



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