Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny, 47, Has Reportedly Died in Prison

alexei navalny chants and holds one hand above his head as he stands in front of a group of people, he wears a hat, mittens, scarf and coat, several russian flags are behind
Alexei NavalnyGetty Images
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Alexei Navalny Now: Russian Authorities Say the Imprisoned Opposition Leader Has Died

Alexei Navalny, the outspoken Russian opposition leader and anticorruption activist, has reportedly died at age 47. Russian authorities say Navalny “felt unwell” after talking a walk on February 16 at the remote penal colony where he was transferred in December 2023, then lost consciousness and was unable to be resuscitated. Navalny’s family hasn’t been officially notified, and his lawyer is en route to learn more. Although the reports haven’t been confirmed, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a press conference Friday, “I have no reason to believe they’re not [true].”

Navalny had been arrested numerous times in the past 13 years, most recently in January 2021 after surviving a near-fatal poisoning and returning to Moscow. Initially sentenced for a parole violation, Navalny was then handed two more sentences, for nine years and 19 years, after being found guilty of embezzlement, fraud, and extremism. Critics denounced both the charges and punishments, saying they were fabricated and politically motivated.

“I perfectly understand that, like many political prisoners, I am sitting on a life sentence. Where life is measured by the term of my life or the term of life of this regime,” Navalny shared in a message after his most recent sentence in August 2023.

No cause of death has been provided. According to a video from February 15, Navalny appeared remotely in a courtroom that day and looked healthy. In the footage, he smiles and laughs while joking with the judge and his lawyer.

Editor’s note: We will continue to update this page as more information is confirmed about this breaking news event.

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Who Is Alexei Navalny?

Born in Russia in 1976, Alexei Navalny studied law and finance before entering politics. He rose to fame as an anticorruption blogger and activist, eventually emerging as a top opposition leader to Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. After announcing his 2018 presidential campaign, Navalny was subsequently barred from the election after being convicted of embezzlement. Along with being arrested numerous times, Navalny survived an assassination attempt by poisoning in August 2020. Incarcerated after returning to Russia in January 2021, he has been found guilty of a host of charges since. By August 2023, his combined sentences totaled more than 30 years in prison.

Quick Facts

FULL NAME: Alexei Anatolievich Navalny
BORN: June 4, 1976
REPORTED DEATH: February 16, 2024
BIRTHPLACE: Butyn, Russia
SPOUSE: Yulia Navalnaya (2000-present)
CHILDREN: Darya and Zakhar

Early Years

Alexei Anatolievich Navalny was born to parents Anatoly Ivanovich and Lyudmila Ivanovna on June 4, 1976, in Butyn, Russia. The son of an army communications officer, he grew up in various military towns around Moscow and spent summers with his grandmother in the countryside near Chernobyl, Ukraine.

Navalny graduated with a law degree from Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in 1998, before earning his master’s from State Finance Academy in 2001. In 2010, he spent a semester studying at Yale University as part of its World Fellows program.

Political Beginnings

Around the time he began working as a lawyer in the late 1990s, Navalny joined Yabloko, the Russian United Democratic Party. He became deputy chairman of its Moscow branch but butted heads with leadership over his nationalist views and was expelled from the party in 2007.

Navalny followed by launching Russia’s National Liberation Movement, which took a harder stance on immigration issues. He called for Georgians to be deported during the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 and created a pro-gun-rights video that showed him shooting an assailant wearing a traditional Middle Eastern keffiyeh.

In 2009, Navalny served as an adviser to Nikita Belykh, the governor of Russia’s Kirov Oblast.

Anticorruption Activist

alexei navalny speaks while sitting at a table inside a room with green walls, a computer is open on the table in front of him and he holds one hand out, he wears a blue sweater vest over a patterned collared shirt, a door and hanging dry erase board are behind
Alexei Navalny, seen here in December 2009, attracted a following after blogging in support of anticorruption efforts in Russia.Getty Images

Having already developed a sizable following with his LiveJournal blog, Navalny began using his platform to draw attention to crooked state business dealings. In November 2010, he published a report that alleged the theft of $4 billion from the oil-transport monopoly Transneft during the construction of a major pipeline. A few weeks later, Navalny launched the website, which invited users to submit publicly available government contracts for evidence of wrongdoing.

The following year, Navalny formed the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) to examine the misuse of state funds. The results of these investigations were revealed in YouTube videos that often embarrassed officials in Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. One video from 2017, which focused on the immense wealth accumulated by then–Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, garnered more than 40 million views.

The government eventually cracked down on the FBK, and it was disbanded after being formally designated an “extremist” group in June 2021.

Opposition Leader and Arrests

alexei navalny stands in a large crowd and speaks into a microphone for a bullhorn, he reaches one hand outward and wears a blue and white collared shirt, buildings and some russian flags that people hold are in the background
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, seen here in May 2018, was barred from running in that year’s presidential election that Vladimir Putin ultimately won.Getty Images

Navalny emerged on the global stage in December 2011, when he was arrested for leading protests against the Russian elections. He rallied younger voters but also invited scrutiny by referring to United Russia as the “party of crooks and thieves.”

Navalny was indicted in 2013 on charges of embezzling $500,000 from a state-owned lumber company. Released on bail, he unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Moscow that summer, before being arrested again that fall, alongside his brother Oleg, for allegedly defrauding two more Russian companies. Navalny was given a suspended sentence, while his brother wound up in prison.

After his original criminal conviction was overturned by Russia’s Supreme Court in 2016, Navalny announced plans to run for president in the March 2018 election. However, his campaign was crippled when he was hauled back into court for a retrial of the 2013 charges and was handed another suspended sentence. As a result, Navalny was barred from the race, which Vladimir Putin ultimately won.

Arrested and briefly jailed again for leading more protests in July 2019, Navalny responded by launching the “Smart Voting” website to raise awareness of opposition leaders best suited to defeat United Russia candidates at the ballot box.

Navalny’s outspoken activism garnered international attention. Beyond media coverage, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in early 2021. Later in the year, Navalny was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.


In August 2020, Navalny became seriously ill on board a flight to Moscow, prompting an emergency landing in Omsk, Russia. He was eventually permitted to receive medical care in Berlin, where it was determined he was poisoned with a Russian-developed Novichok nerve agent.

Following his discharge from the hospital a month later, Navalny teamed with news agencies and the London-based investigative group Bellingcat to pinpoint his would-be assassins from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). He even managed to get one such security agent on the phone and tricked him into admitting the nerve agent had been applied to the target’s underwear.

Return to Russia and Imprisonment

alexei navalny and yulia navalnaya walk on a tiled floor while rolling black suitcases and wearing face masks, coats and pants, a group of people walks alongside and behind them
Alexei Navalny and his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, walk inside a Moscow airport on January 17, 2021, after returning to Russia for the first time since Navalny was poisoned the previous August.Getty Images

Navalny was immediately arrested upon returning to Moscow in January 2021 for violating the terms of his probation. He was sentenced to two and a half years. After undergoing a hunger strike, he was sentenced to an additional nine years in a maximum-security prison in March 2022 for embezzling funds from his Anti-Corruption Foundation. Meanwhile, Navalny continued to speak out from behind bars.

In August 2023, Navalny faced his third sentence in as many years. He was convicted of extremism charges and handed 19 more years in prison. That December, the imprisoned activist went missing for more than two weeks while being transferred to a remote penal colony north of the Arctic Circle. Both he and his lawyer eventually confirmed he was okay.

Navalny Documentary

The activist was the subject of the 2022 documentary Navalny, which explores his recovery period in Germany following his near-fatal poisoning and his return to Russia to face incarceration. The movie was named Best Documentary Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards in March 2023.

“I would like to dedicate this award to Navalny, to all political prisoners around the world,” director Daniel Roher said in his acceptance speech. “Alexei, the world has not forgotten your vital message to us all. We cannot, we must not be afraid to oppose dictators and authoritarianism wherever it rears its head.”

Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, also took the Oscars stage and briefly spoke: “My husband is in prison just for telling the truth. My husband is in prison just for defending democracy. Alexei, I am dreaming of the day when you will be free and our country will be free. Stay strong, my love.”

Wife and Children

alexei navalny stands with wife yulia navalnaya and their children dasha and zakhar as cameras surround the family on either side, all four smile
Alexei Navalny with his family in September 2013: from left, daughter Dasha, son Zakhar, and wife Yulia NavalnayaGetty Images

Navalny met fellow student Yulia Abrosimova while they were both vacationing in Turkey in the late 1990s, and they were married in 2000. Now known as Yulia Navalnaya, she has developed her own profile as a devoted supporter of her husband’s stand against corruption. The couple has a daughter, Darya, and a son, Zakhar.

Reported Death

Russian authorities reported Navalny died on February 16, 2024, however his family hasn’t received official notification and no cause of death has been provided for the 47-year-old. Officials said he “felt unwell” after talking a walk, lost consciousness, and wasn’t able to be resuscitated.

Despite confirmation, Russian citizens and people around the world are mourning his death, and U.S. President Joe Biden said in a press conference he had “no reason to believe” the reports were false. “Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death,” Biden also declared. The Kremlin denied involvement in the alleged death, according to The Washington Post.

On February 15, Navalny appeared on video in a courtroom proceeding and looked healthy. Footage shows him smiling and laughing while joking with the judge and his lawyer.


  • United Russia is the party of corruption, the party of crooks and thieves.

  • It’s better to die standing up than live on your knees.

  • I want to live in a normal country and refuse to accept any talk about Russia being doomed to being a bad, poor or servile country. I want to live here, and I can’t tolerate the injustice that for many people has become routine.

  • Russia is my country. Moscow is my city. And I miss them.

  • I perfectly understand that, like many political prisoners, I am sitting on a life sentence. Where life is measured by the term of my life or the term of life of this regime.

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