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NEW YORK (Feb. 16, 2024) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the murder of prominent Russian dissident and opposition leader Alexei Navalny while serving an unlawful 19-year prison sentence at the “Polar Wolf” penal colony in Russia’s Arctic Circle.

“The death of Navalny is yet another heinous crime by Putin’s corrupt regime. A slow-motion murder for the entire world to bear witness,” HRF Chairman Garry Kasparov said. “It’s a somber reminder that Putin will not stop until he’s stopped.”

Navalny was an outspoken critic of Russia’s authoritarian regime and one of the leading voices challenging Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship. In 2011, he founded the Anti-Corruption Foundation, through which he conducted anti-corruption investigations on state companies and senior government officials. In 2013, he came in second in Moscow’s mayoral election, and in 2018, he campaigned — but was illegally disqualified from appearing on the ballot — for the presidential election.

As a result of his unwavering activism, Navalny was jailed and targeted with assassination attempts. In 2019, he was imprisoned under politically motivated charges of “violating protest laws” after he called for peaceful demonstrations in response to fraudulent city council elections. In August 2020, Navalny survived an assassination attempt after Secret Service agents poisoned him with a nerve agent. After his recovery in Germany, Navalny courageously returned to Russia, where he was immediately arrested and subsequently sentenced to 19 years in prison on charges of “extremism.” 

In May, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture denounced “the deteriorating state of Mr. Navalny’s health” as a result of the solitary confinement he was repeatedly forced to endure. Just two days ago, Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh announced he faced another 15 days in solitary confinement, bringing the total number of days spent in solitary to 308. During his three years in prison, he was punished with solitary confinement 27 times.

“The murder of Alexei Navalny marks yet another horrible episode in the struggle for freedom in Russia. Navalny’s death is a monumental loss for the Russian pro-democracy movement and a glaring reminder of the lengths to which Putin’s tyrannical regime will go to silence the voice of a man who dared rise up and challenge the Putin dictatorship,” HRF CEO Thor Halvorssen said. “In mourning Alexei, we must also honor his unbreakable spirit. His heroism, resilience, courage, and sacrifice must illuminate the path forward, inspiring an unyielding resolve to continue the fight for a democratic Russia. Navalny’s legacy is a beacon of hope and a call to remain resolute in the face of Putin’s tyranny, no matter how daunting the road ahead.”

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

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