Ukraine Intelligence Chief Says Alexei Navalny Was Not Murdered

A Ukrainian intelligence chief has said that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was not murdered by Vladimir Putin’s regime but died from natural causes. Kyrylo Budanov told Western reporters that Nevalny died from a blood clot at a Siberian prison, echoing the Kremlin’s claims. Mr. Budanov told the journalists that he was sorry to disappoint them. 

Mr. Nevalny’s remains were finally given to his family on February 24, and his mother said she hopes the state will now allow them to put him to rest. The political leader’s wife, however, furiously accused Putin’s government of torturing her husband to death. She called the Russian leader “Satan” for holding his body “hostage” for several days. 

Navalny died in prison on February 16 after complaining of ill-treatment and malnutrition, for which he received prior hospital treatment. A statement from the prison said officers tried to revive him and that life-saving techniques were applied, but to no avail. 

Having received medical treatment in Germany, Mr. Nevalny returned to his home country in January 2021 and was immediately arrested on charges of parole violation. He had previously been convicted on embezzlement charges that were subject to subsequent legal wrangling, prompting his release on probation. 

A practicing attorney, Alexei Navalny was one of Putin’s most high-profile critics and devoted his legal and political career to highlighting what he said was a corrupt Kremlin government. In 2020, he lost consciousness on a flight to Siberia, and doctors placed him into an induced coma. He was eventually transferred to Germany for treatment, where physicians claimed he had been poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent. 

When re-arrested on his return, he spent much of his prison time in solitary confinement, and there were consistent concerns about his health. In 2023, a judge sentenced him to a 19-year prison term, beginning in a notorious penal colony near Moscow. Officials later transferred him to a “special regime” prison near the Arctic Circle.