Produced by CNN Films and HBO Max, Daniel Roher’s ‘Navalny’ centers around the Russian opposition leader’s life and the circumstances surrounding his poisoning in 2020. Alexei Navalny made it his life’s mission to expose corruption in the Kremlin in Russia. While his history of being outspoken against the government has landed him a lot of support, Alexei also believed it caused him to receive several prison convictions that he felt were politically motivated. So, let’s find out what happened to Alexei then, shall we?
What Happened to Alexei Navalny?
Alexei Navalny was born in Butyn, Russia, and initially made a name for himself as a blogger exposing the corruption of state-owned companies. Soon, more people began to read his blog, making him one of the chief voices in the 2011 protests in Moscow, Russia. The popularity led to a mayoral campaign for the city of Moscow in 2013, where Alexei ran on a controversially nationalist platform taking a hard stance against immigrants. While he came second in the election, it seemed like Alexei’s work was only beginning.
In December 2014, Alexei and his brother were sentenced after being accused of embezzling money from two firms, one being an affiliate of a French cosmetics company. While Alexei’s sentence was suspended, his brother was sent to jail. By then, the vocal critic was already under house arrest and was serving a five-year suspended sentence for a previous conviction. At the time, both were seen as bogus by opposition and critics.
Alexei’s 2018 presidential run was derailed after a district court convicted him in 2017 of embezzling money from a state-owned company by using his position as an aide. This move was widely seen as the Russian President Putin making sure his only viable rival was eliminated from the election. Alexei, at the time, denied the accusations and claimed the conviction was politically motivated. He tweeted, “Putin and his gang of thieves are afraid to face us in elections. Rightly so: We will win.”
Things took a terrifying turn in August 2020 when Alexei fell ill while on a plane from Siberia to Moscow. After making an emergency landing in Omsk, Russia, he was airlifted to Germany for treatment. As per reports, the Russian doctors initially tried to block the transfer. It was later reported that Alexei was poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent. While he made a full recovery eventually, he accused Putin of ordering the attack. In a report citing phone records and travel information as evidence, Alexei claimed Russian agents of the FSB planted the nerve agent in his underwear.
Where is Alexei Navalny Now?
Alexei Navalny eventually traveled to Moscow about five months after the poisoning attempt but was arrested immediately upon landing. The prosecution claimed that Alexei violated his parole agreement by failing to check in regularly with the authorities. In February 2021, the judge ruled that his suspended sentence from 2014 would be converted to an actual prison term, resulting in Alexei being sent to prison for over two years.
Amnesty International later stated that Alexei was being deprived of sleep and medical care that he could trust, leading him to die slowly. In April 2021, Alexei was transferred to a hospital weeks after he went on a hunger strike to force better care for pain in his back and legs. During an interview from prison, Alexei said that he was prohibited from reading and writing but was forced to watch propaganda films on Russian state TV. A few months after receiving the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, Alexei was back in court again.
In March 2022, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for fraud and contempt of court, with the prosecution claiming he embezzled donations from supporters. This new sentence meant that Alexei would be moved to a high-security jail from his previous location, Penal Colony No. 2 in Vladimir Oblast, Russia. In light of his sentencing, Alexei asked his supporters to continue the fight, adding, “The best support for me and other political prisoners is not sympathy and kind words, but actions. Any activity against the deceitful and thievish Putin’s regime. Any opposition to these war criminals.”