Navalny, 47, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, spent his final years behind bars as the Russian leader reshaped the country to rally behind his war in Ukraine.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has died in prison, the country’s prison service said Friday, following a yearslong struggle against official corruption and President Vladimir Putin’s government that saw him survive several poisoning attempts.

He was 47.

Navalny was poisoned with a military nerve agent while on a business trip in Russia in 2020 — an attempt on his life that he blamed directly on Putin — and spent his final years behind bars as the Russian leader reshaped the country to rally behind his war in Ukraine. News of his death, which comes as the Kremlin is preparing to orchestrate another election victory for Putin in March, drew condemnation from the West.

Navalny was serving a combined 30 ½-year jail sentence when he died. He went missing in Russia’s penal system in December, eventually turning up at a high-security penal colony in a remote town above the Arctic Circle.

Russia’s Federal Prison Service said in a statement that Navalny had died after feeling unwell following a walk Friday.

“On February 16, 2024, in penal colony No. 3, convict A.A. Navalny felt unwell after a walk, almost immediately losing consciousness,” the prison service for the Yamalo-Nenets region, where Navalny was moved, said in a statement on its website.

“The facility’s medical workers immediately arrived at the scene and an emergency medical team was called in. All necessary resuscitation measures have been carried out, but they did not yield positive results. Emergency medics confirmed the death of the convict,” the statement added.

There was no immediate information about what exactly caused Navalny’s death, with the region’s investigative committee saying it has launched a “procedural investigation.”

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, received a standing ovation at the Munich Security Conference, where Western officials gathered Friday.

“I don’t know whether I should believe the news,” she said, explaining it had come from state sources she said were known for lying.

If it’s true, she said, “I want Putin, all his allies and all his government to know that they will be held responsible for what they have done to my country, my family and to my husband. That day will come very soon.”

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