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Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny dies in prison: State media

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny steps out of a police bus as he arrives to the court for his trial in Moscow, on August 27, 2018. (File photo by AFP)

Russian activist and opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died in prison in northern Russia, the country's state media reported on Friday. 

Navalny, 47, who made global headlines in 2020 for allegedly being poisoned with nerve gas, Novichok, died on Friday at a penal colony north of the Arctic Circle.

Navalny “felt unwell after a walk” and “almost immediately” lost consciousness, the prison service announced, adding that an investigation had been launched to determine the cause of his “sudden death.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia's President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the death and that it was up to the doctors to determine the cause of his death.

“As far as we’re aware, in accordance with all the rules, the prison service is carrying out checks and clarifications,” Peskov told reporters. Asked about reports that the death involved a blood clot, he replied: “I don’t know. Doctors must find it out.”

Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that his lawyer is traveling to the prison in Kharp. “As soon as we have any information, we will report it,” Yarmysh added.

Navalny, who had organized some of the biggest anti-government protests seen in recent years, returned to Russia in 2021 to serve his prison sentences over fraud and other convictions, adding to 11.5 years.

In August, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison after he was found guilty of creating an "extremist" community, financing "terrorist" activities and various other crimes.

He was a long-time critic of Moscow, alleging corruption in high places and campaigning against the ruling United Russia Party.

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