What do we know about Alexei Navalny's death?

Credit: AP

By ITV News Producer Hannah Ward-Glenton

A spokesperson for Alexei Navalny has confirmed his death in a social media post, after Russian prison officials reported he had died on Friday.

The spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said the Russian opposition leader was 'murdered', while Russian officials said he became ill after going for a walk.

So what do we actually know about the Putin critic's death?

Was Alexei Navalny healthy before he died?

Alexei Navalny was 47 years old when he died, making a death by natural causes less likely, but his health had deteriorated after spending three years in prison.

His doctor said he "could die at any moment" in April 2021 when he took part in a hunger strike, and there have been several reports that he did not have access to suitable medical treatment during bouts of imprisonment.

But reports suggest he looked as though he was in good health when he appeared in court a day before he died.

When did Alexei Navalny die?

Russian prison officials announced that Alexei Navalny had died in prison on Friday, and a spokesperson for the Navalny family went into further detail after speaking to his mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya.

"His death occurred on February 16 at 2:17 p.m. local time, according to the official message to Alexey’s mother," Ms Yarmysh wrote on X.

How did Alexei Navalny die?

Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service reported that Mr Navalny felt sick after a walk on Friday and lost consciousness at the penal colony in the town of Kharp, in the Yamalo-Nenets region about 1,200 miles northeast of Moscow.

An ambulance arrived, but he couldn't be revived. When visiting the prison when he died on Saturday morning, officials told Ms Navalnaya that her son had died as a result of "sudden death syndrome", according to a close ally of the opposition leader.

But there is widespread belief that the Kremlin was involved in Mr Navalny's death.

"Alexey Navalny was murdered," Ms Yarmysh wrote on X, while US President Joe Biden said his death was caused by Russian officials.

"Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny's death," Mr Biden said during a press conference on Friday.

Mr Navalny's family are now trying to retrieve his body, having been unable to collect it from a morgue early on Saturday.

After officials claimed the politician's body was being held at Salekhard morgue, his lawyers called the facility and were told by staff that they did not have it, according to Ms Yarmysh.

Lyudmila Navalnaya and a lawyer visited a morgue in Salekhard, thinking it was where Mr Navalny would be. Credit: AP

“It’s obvious that they are lying and doing everything they can to avoid handing over the body,” Ms Yarmysh wrote, adding that the family “demand that Alexei Navalny’s body be handed over to his family immediately”.

It is impossible to say exactly how Mr Nevalny died before an impartial autopsy is carried out.

At around 1pm UK time on Saturday, Ms Yarmysh wrote: "Only an hour ago, the lawyers were informed that the investigation had been concluded and that something criminal had not been established. "They literally lie every time, driving us around in circles and covering their tracks."

What else have Alexei Navalny's family said?

Hours after Mr Navalny's death was reported, his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, made a dramatic appearance at a security conference in Germany where many leaders had gathered.

She said she had considered cancelling, “but then I thought what Alexei would do in my place. And I’m sure he would be here.”

“I want Putin and everyone around Putin, Putin’s friends, his government to know that they will bear responsibility for what they did to our country, to my family and to my husband. And this day will come very soon,” Ms Navalnaya said.

How has the general public reacted?

Memorials to mark the death of Alexei Navalny have appeared across Russia, but more than 100 people have been detained in Russia after they openly paid their respects to the Putin critic.

Around 10 people were detained at a memorial in St. Petersburg, including a priest who was there to conduct a service, while floral tributes were also removed and destroyed.

Footage shared on social media shows people removing flowers from a memorial in Moscow

Protestors surrounded Russian embassies around the world on hearing the news of Mr Navalny's death.

In central London, those gathered chanted “Putin is a killer”, and held up signs with slogans including “Putin will never stop killing”, “we are Navalny”, and "don’t give up”.

Will international governments respond?

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has said there should be "consequences" in the wake of Mr Navalny's death.

Lord Cameron did not give any details as to what those "consequences" could be.

Speaking to broadcasters at the Munich Security Conference, he described Mr Navalny as "an incredibly brave man".

His life revealed so much about the true nature of Putin’s ghastly regime. And his death has revealed that all over again," Lord Cameron said.

The leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer also spoke at the conference and said Russia needed to be "held to account" following Mr Navalny's death.

US President Joe Biden said Washington doesn’t know exactly what happened, “but there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was a consequence of something Putin and his thugs did.”

Mr Navalny “could have lived safely in exile,” but returned home despite knowing he could be imprisoned or killed “because he believed so deeply in his country, in Russia,” the US President added.

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Mr Navalny “has probably now paid for this courage with his life.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin was told of Mr Navalny’s death.

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