Navalny Spokesperson Says Putin Foe ‘Murdered’—Claims Russia Keeping Body From Family

Navalny Spokesperson Says Putin Foe ‘Murdered’—Claims Russia Keeping Body From Family


A spokesperson for Alexei Navalny confirmed the Russian opposition leader’s death in a series of social media posts Saturday morning, tweeting the longtime foe of President Vladimir Putin was “murdered” and alleging Russian authorities were stonewalling his supporters’ efforts to retrieve his body.

A woman touches a photo of Alexei Navalny after laying flowers paying the last respect to him at the … [+] Memorial to Victims of Political Repression in St. Petersburg, Russia on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. Russian authorities say that Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests, died in prison. He was 47. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

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Key Facts

In the wake of the Russian prison system’s report of Navalny’s death Friday, members of Navalny’s team initially said they were unable to confirm his death, but on Saturday morning, spokesperson Kira Yarmysh alleged on X Navalny “was murdered” and his death occurred at 2:17 p.m. Feb. 16, according to a message given to Navalny’s mother.

She also demanded his body “be handed over to his family immediately,” and in a series of posts, detailed his team’s efforts to find his body, which Russian prison officials allegedly said was being investigated by a committee and was at a morgue in the remote Arctic city of Salekhard, near Navalny’s prison colony.

When a lawyer and Navalny’s mother arrived at the Salekhard morgue, an employee there told them the body was not there, Yarmysh claims.

Yarmysh says when they asked the Salekhard Investigative Committee, they were told a cause of death was not yet established and new examinations were being done, with the results expected next week—Yarmysh alleged “it’s obvious they are lying and doing everything they can to avoid handing over the body.”

The Investigative Committee later told Navalny’s team the body would not be handed over until the investigation was completed, Yarmysh claimed.

Only 15 minutes later, Yarmysh posted again, claiming Navalny’s lawyers were informed the investigation was concluded and no criminal activity had been established, prompting skepticism from Yarmysh, who claimed “they literally lie every time, driving us around in circles and covering their tracks.”

Key Background

Navalny was well known as one of Putin’s most vocal critics who had already survived one poisoning attempt on his life. Navalny was serving multiple prison sentences, including a 19-year sentence on charges of extremism that his supporters widely view as politically motivated. His team of supporters had long been raising concerns about his safety—particularly after he was moved to a penal colony in the Arctic without warning or any information about his whereabouts. Navalny had reported to court through video the day before his death, where he was reportedly joking with the judge and appeared in good spirits. President Joe Biden called Putin responsible for Navalny’s death in a speech Friday.


The Russian Prison Service has said Navalny felt unwell after a walk and lost consciousness. Medical workers who arrived on scene were unable to resuscitate Navalny, and the cause of death is being established. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reportedly called world leaders’ remarks suggesting Navalny’s death may have been the result of foul play “absolutely outrageous and absolutely unacceptable.” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova similarly accused western leaders of a “knee-jerk reaction to Navalny’s death,” making accusations without forensic examination.


More than 270 people were reportedly arrested while attending memorials across Russia honoring Navalny, according to a protest monitoring group called OVD-Info.

Further Reading

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