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IMPRISONED Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was left seriously ill following a suspected poisoning in August 2020.
The opposition leader was poisoned with the nerve agent novichok in an attack allegedly ordered by the Kremlin. Russia denies responsibility.
Who is Alexei Navalny?
Alexei Navalny, is a Russian activist, lawyer and leader of the Russian opposition Progress Party.
The 45-year-old is a defiant critic of Vladimir Putin‘s regime and has been described as the man he “fears most” by the Washington Post.
Navalny has also campaigned against corruption, broadcasting vlogs to his 6.4 million YouTube subscribers advocating reform and opposing political corruption.
He also runs a blog and a Twitter account, with over 2.9 million followers which he has used to organise political demonstrations.
He was hospitalised after being poisoned a day after mass protests in Moscow in August 2020.
Alexei Navalny’s wife is Yulia Navalnaya, who has been a passionate supporter of him throughout his illness and legal battles.
They married in 2000 and have two children, a son and a daughter.
What happened to him?
The politician was heard screaming in agony as he fell seriously ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20, 2020.
Video footage showed Navalny being stretchered from the aircraft to a waiting ambulance in the Siberian city of Omsk.
He was rushed to hospital with an initial diagnosis of “toxic poisoning”.
Earlier, he was photographed drinking from a cup at a café at Tomsk airport prior to his flight.
He was flown to Germany for medical treatment, and officials in the country discovered traces of the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok in samples taken from him.
Angela Merkel‘s spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed on September 2, 2020, that the agent had been found following tests in a German military lab.
The pair were left fighting for their lives after the nerve agent was daubed on the doorknob of his home.
Why was he poisoned?
It is unknown why Navalny was poisoned, though many suspect his open criticism of Putin’s regime made him a target.
Navalny famously described Putin’s ruling party, United Russia, as a “party of crooks and thieves” and labelled elections as “rigged”.
In January 2021, a film made by Navalny and his anti-corruption team revealed “Putin’s Palace“, a vast mega-mansion allegedly owned by Putin.
Navalny has faced constant legal attacks and has served a number of jail sentences.
And in 2015 his ally Boris Nemtsov was found murdered – a murder rumoured to have been linked to the Kremlin.
Who poisoned Navalny?
In 2021, the US intelligence community concluded ‘with high confidence’ that Navalny was poisoned by members of FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Service.
Putin has consistently denied involvement in the attack.
Where is Alexei Navalny now?
Navalny was serving a three-and-a-half year sentence for breaking bail conditions.
It’s thought he was being held in IK-2, prison labour colony in Pokrov, 60 miles east of Moscow.
But in March 22, 2022, he handed a 9-year-sentence after being found guilty of contempt of court and fraud.
His new sentence – which was condemned by Amnesty International – replaces his earlier term, and means he’ll serve around seven years in a much more remote “strict regime penal colony”.