Alexei Navalni, the most media face of the opposition to Putin

Alexei Navalny (1976-2024) died unexpectedly this Friday in prison in the Yamal-Nenets region, where he was serving a sentence of almost 30 years one of the most media-effective leaders of the opposition to Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

Unlike other opponents who made careers in Congress or local governments, Navalni carved out a niche among Kremlin discontents via the Internet and social networks and from there ventured into politics. tries to take over the Moscow mayor’s officebut without success.

At this event in 2013, he took second place, behind only Kremlin candidate Sergei Sobianin, mayor of the Russian capital since 2010. Before these elections, Navalny was imprisoned for the first time, a fact that would repeat itself over the years. In 2022, he was convicted of fraud.

This charge, which resulted in a nine-year prison sentence, prevented him from submitting his candidacy for the 2018 presidential election. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested for violating his probation by traveling to Germany for treatment. A poisoning that many believe the Kremlin had something to do with.

His arrest mobilized peoplePart of Russian society who took to the streets to demand his release in one of the largest concentrations in living memory, in a country that has little preference for these kinds of demonstrations.

While he was already in prison, the judiciary imposed another sentence on him in August 2023 for his anti-corruption foundation, which is considered an extremist organization under Russian law. Behind bars he has not stopped speaking out about his lawyers, who warned last December that they had lost contact with him.

In January 2024 one of his last statements: Navalni denounced before a judge the harsh prison conditions he was subjected to. “The punishment cell is usually a very cold place,” he claimed The prisoners had to cover themselves with newspapers to avoid freezing to death.

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Target of various attacks

This incident, for which he had to be treated in Germany, is not the only one from which Navalni emerged successfully, as in prison he had to face other alleged attempts to end his life.

He had already previously, in 2019, on one of his several trips to prisonThe prison medical service diagnosed him with a type of dermatitis which could have been caused by some type of toxin.

It had to be two years ago One of his eyes was operated on at a clinic in Barcelona after someone poured a green antiseptic liquid on him known as Zelyonka, a dye that was very popular for a time to attack those who opposed the Kremlin.

Controversial racist statements

After the poisoning that left him in a coma, he soon became one of the Kremlin’s most prominent opposition figures abroad. However, since he was not the focus of the international media, his critics remembered some of his xenophobic statements on social networks or his frequent participation in right-wing extremist events in Russia.

So recordings from 2007 and 2008 were dusted off in which he called immigrants “cockroaches” and defended the deportation of all illegal workers from the former Soviet states of Central Asia.

The NGO Amnesty International even went so far as to revoke his status as a “prisoner of conscience” in February 2021 after these xenophobic comments were deemed hate speech.

However, a few months later, Amnesty withdrew and re-granted him that status, saying Russian authorities had exploited the previous declaration to further restrict the freedoms of an already imprisoned Navalny.

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