Russian Spy Chief Claims Putin Critic Alexei Navalny Died Of 'Natural Causes'

It follows widespread accusations that the Kremlin was involved in his death.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, pictured in 2022
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, pictured in 2022
via Associated Press

Vladimir Putin’s famous critic Alexei Navalny died of “natural causes,” according to a Russian spy chief.

Sergei Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service – known as the Russian acronym SVR – told state TV: “Sooner or later, life ends and people die. Navalny has died of natural causes.”

Navalny was last seen in public when he appeared via video link the day before his death last month, joking with journalists from behind bars.

The 47-year-old was serving a lengthy prison sentence in a Russian penal colony within the Arctic circle at the time, on extremism charges widely seen as politically motivated.

According to the police service, he felt unwell while on a walk and fell unconscious – medics were unable to revive him.

Reuters previously reported that Navalny’s mother was told by the Russian prison service that he died “from sudden death syndrome” – that’s a broad term for different types of cardiac arrest.

Other media reports also claimed Navalny’s body was found in a hospital morgue in the Arctic two days after his death with bruising on his head and chest, but these allegations could not be independently verified.

Naryshkin’s statement came after international accusations that the Russian president had a hand in Navalny’s death.

The Kremlin has vehemently denied claims that the opposition politician was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, as alleged by Navalny’s widow.

Moscow also rejected calls for an independent, international investigation into Navalny’s death.

When the news was first announced last month, US president Joe Biden joined the chorus of voices blaming Moscow and said: “Make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death.”

Putin has not addressed Navalny’s death himself despite the widespread reaction.

The funeral, held on Friday in a Moscow suburb, attracted thousands of mourners willing to show their respects even amid a strong police presence, with many chanting: “Putin is a murderer.”

Early mourners who tried to lay flowers in Russia’s streets in Navalny’s memory were arrested.

According to Navalny’s family, they were initially blocked from seeing the body.

Once they finally had access to it, several venues allegedly refused to host a funeral once they knew who it was for.


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