Navalny was jailed in January when he returned to Russia after recovering in Germany from a poison attack in August. He blamed the Russian security forces for the poisoning, as well as the US and European authorities. Russian officials have denied any role.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan he warned that Russia will face the consequences if Navalny dies while in prison.
Navalny was sentenced to more than 2.5 years in prison in part for violating probation rules by going to Germany for treatment, a sentence his supporters say is entirely political.
His detention attracted thousands of protesters to the streets in Russia.
Here’s what you need to know about Navalny and his captivity.
Who is Navalny?
Navalny was born on June 4, 1976 in Obninsk, about 60 miles southwest of Moscow.
After earning his law and finance degree from Russian universities, Navalny entered politics in 1999, just as Putin first took over the national leadership. He joined the liberal opposition Yabloko party and pushed it towards a more nationalist message that put him in conflict with the party leadership.
He was expelled by Yabloko in 2007, partly due to controversial comments on immigration and his decision to participate in the annual Russian march, which is anti-Putin but includes far-right members.
While running a small corporate law firm in Moscow, Navalny developed a strategy of buying shares in oil companies and state-related banks so that he could become a minority shareholder and question the leadership of the companies. He later formed a group known as the Anti-Corruption Foundation to expand this work and open investigations that increasingly hit the hearts of the Kremlin elite. A 2017 denounced claimed that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had a vast network of $ 1 billion mansions. The YouTube video accompanying the survey received more than 35 million views.
He played a key role in several political movements.
Did you run around the office?
Navalny was barred from running for president in the 2018 elections, with the Central Election Commission arguing his campaign was ineligible due to a conviction in a 2014 embezzlement case that his supporters saw as political punishment. .
When he was allowed to run, there were indications of political support. In 2013, he won 27 percent of the vote against a key Kremlin ally in the Moscow mayor election, a result that surprised some analysts, as Navalny lacked the support of state media and was forced to move away from Moscow during the campaign because of legal problems.
Electoral inspectors constantly report violations during Russian elections that compromise their integrity.
What led to his imprisonment and what has happened since then?
In August, Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent during a flight from Siberia. The pilot made an emergency landing in the city of Omsk, where Navalny was taken to a hospital and placed on a ventilator.
“This is Putin,” Yarmysh wrote on Twitter. “Whether he gave the order himself or not, the fault lies entirely with him.”
Navalny was treated in Germany and arrested immediately upon his return to Russia on the grounds that he had violated the terms of a previous parole.
In this spring, his health had had deteriorated significantly. His lawyers said he is experiencing excruciating pain from a herniated disc in his back. At the end of March, Navalny went on a hunger strike to seek medical attention. In mid-April, his spokesperson said he could only have lived a few days if he hadn’t received treatment. Soon after, he was transferred to a prison hospital.
Navalny announced the end of his hunger strike on Friday via Instagram. (He doesn’t have access to the account, but his lawyers said it’s run by his allies.)
“Thanks to the tremendous support of good people across the country and around the world, we’ve made tremendous progress,” the Instagram post said. He said he had achieved his goal: access to civilian doctors.
Was it politically targeted?
In addition to the August poisoning, Navalny and his supporters point to numerous cases of harassment for his activism, including legal and physical threats.
In 2014, Navalny was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly misappropriating $ 500,000 worth of timber from a state-owned company. The prison sentence was subsequently suspended. Although the case was declared unfair by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2016, a Russian court reiterated it the following year.
Further legal cases have kept Navalny in court or under house arrest. In late 2014, both he and his brother Oleg Navalny were sentenced to jail for allegedly embezzling money from French cosmetics company Yves Rocher.
Although Navalny’s sentence was suspended and the ECHR again claimed the case was unfair, his brother spent 3.5 years in prison before being released in 2018.
Navalny also faced physical harassment and threats. In 2017 it was sprinkled several times with an antiseptic green dye. Although he shed some light on the incident by posing for photographs on his social media accounts, after an accident in April of that year he was hospitalized after dye got into his eyes.
In 2019, Navalny was hospitalized with an “acute allergic reaction” after being arrested again. His personal doctor said he may have been struck by an unknown chemical.
Were other opposition figures targeted?
During Putin’s long rule in Russia, political opponents were jailed. For example, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian oligarch who was initially pro-Putin, spent 10 years in prison after clashing with the Kremlin.
Some have been killed. Boris Nemtsov, a liberal politician once considered a potential successor to Putin’s predecessor Boris Yeltsin, was killed within walking distance of the Kremlin in 2015. Putin suggested it was a contract killing designed to embarrass the Kremlin.
There have been several high profile cases of poisoning or alleged poisoning. In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, died after being poisoned in London.
Litvinenko had written a book exposing a deadly false flag conspiracy to help Putin get elected in 1999. British authorities later said he had been poisoned after drinking tea cooked with polonium-210 and that Putin himself could have ordered the ‘murder.
This report has been updated.