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Alexei Navalny, leader of the Russian opposition, died Friday in a Russian penal colony, the Russian Federal Prison Service said. Russian officials said Navalny lost consciousness after feeling unwell during a walk, and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

His death comes three years after he was poisoned in what was widely speculated to be an assassination attempt carried out by the Russian security services. After the poisoning, which he recovered from in Germany, Navalny willingly returned to Russia. He was immediately arrested on a range of charges, including extremism and contempt. His death is being attributed to Russian leadership by his allies and family.

Navalny gained notoriety in Russia through his vocal opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is well known for his documentaries highlighting the corruption and lavish spending of Russian leadership. His film "Putin's palace. History of world's largest bribe," has amassed 130 million views on YouTube, with the Moscow Times (Not Rated) reporting in 2021 that one in four Russians had watched the video.

Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, pledged to continue her husband’s fight in a video message released Monday, stating, "Three days ago, Vladimir Putin killed my husband Alexei Navalny. Putin killed the father of my children. Putin took away the most precious thing I had, the closest and most beloved person,” Yulia Navalnaya said, according to captions on her video message. “I have no right to give up. I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny. I will continue to fight for our country and I urge you to stand next to me,” she added.

Following news of his death, Western writers across the spectrum praised Navalny's efforts and advocacy for democratic reforms in Russia.

Anne Applebaum (Center bias) explained the power of Navalny, describing how he “seemed real to other ordinary Russians, and he told stories that had relevance to their lives.” Applebaum determined this appeal led the Russian government to kill Navalny, writing, “Even behind bars Navalny was a real threat to Putin, because he was living proof that courage is possible, that truth exists, that Russia could be a different kind of country.”

The National Review Editorial Board (Right bias) called Navalny “one of the bravest men of our time,” writing that he “understood the power of humor, and found creative ways to lampoon Russia’s ruling party as a clique of thieves and crooks.” The board concluded, “You often hear that Vladimir Putin, no matter what, loves his country. Yet he robs it blind. He immiserates it. True love of country was shown by Navalny.”

A writer in The Dispatch (Lean Right bias) stated that "Navalny’s death is another, more dramatic symbol of the never-ending brutality of the Russian regime and its wars—both against Ukraine and against its own population. It’s possible, of course, that Navalny’s death was 'simply' the result of his torture-like prison conditions. But just as likely is the possibility that the course of events followed a precise script, dictated by the Kremlin and intended to deprive Russian society of all remaining hope."

A writer in the Daily Beast (Left bias) praised Navalny for returning to Russia in 2021 after he was poisoned by the Russian security services, writing that he “truly believed in Russia, in the possibility of a democratic nation rising from the ruins of the Soviet empire.” The writer concluded, “Today, a Russia free of Putin and Putinism seems almost impossible to imagine. But for the sake of Navalny, we must imagine it.”

A writer in the Los Angeles Times (Lean Left bias) pushed back on 2024 candidate and former President Donald Trump, who equated Navalny's death with his criminal indictments. The writer argued, "the notion that Joe Biden is the moral equivalent of Vladimir Putin is a slander, not merely of Biden but of America itself. Indeed, one reason we know it’s not true: Publicly criticizing Putin’s treatment of Navalny can land you in a Russian cell. Criticizing Biden’s (alleged) treatment of Trump can land you in a Fox News studio."

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden hinted at the announcement of a major sanctions package against Russia in the coming days in response to the death of Navalny and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

More from the Center

Putin shows his evil timidity in Navalny’s death
Tom Rogan (opinion)

"So, while Navalny might now be dead, Putin has only reminded the world why it’s so important that he be resisted in Ukraine and elsewhere. Navalny’s only offense was to draw light on the truer nature of Putin’s politics. And for that, whether by slow mistreatment or direct assassination, this actual Russian patriot was killed."

More from the Left

Navalny gave us a glimpse of what Russia could be
CNN (opinion)

"His death may seem to suggest that there is no future for the Russian opposition. But that is not necessarily true. Navalny provided a glimpse of what Russia could be. He accomplished what had once seemed impossible. Navalny skillfully used the internet to undermine the widespread apathy that prevented people from challenging authority. People realized that they were not alone, and that collective action could get results."

More from the Right

This Is What ‘Regime’ ‘Tyranny’ Looks Like
Noah Rothman (opinion)

"Navalny’s fate should shame those who establish defamatory equivalences between modern America and Putin’s Russia, but it won’t. If they had the capacity for that corrective emotion, they long ago subordinated it to their desire for political influence. After all, they’re free to say and think what they like — an aspiration Alexei Navalny shared and for which he gave his life. If we still can recognize courage, that’s what it really looks like."

See more big stories from the past week.