Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny dies, prison service says

By Sophie Tanno, Karl de Vries, Sana Noor Haq, Zoe Sottile, Michael Williams, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 7:45 p.m. ET, February 16, 2024
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7:27 p.m. ET, February 16, 2024

We've wrapped up our live coverage. You can read more about the reported death of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny by scrolling through the posts below.

7:38 p.m. ET, February 16, 2024

Biden says he holds Putin responsible as Russians attend vigils for Alexey Navalny. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the reported death of Alexei Navalny from the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Friday, February 16.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the reported death of Alexei Navalny from the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Friday, February 16. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden was unequivocal Friday in laying blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin for the reported death of opposition figure Alexey Navalny, saying regardless of the details still to come, "Make no mistake: Putin is responsible."

Biden's comments came as Russians risked detention Friday night in Moscow and elsewhere across the country, attending rallies and vigils in Navalny's honor.

Navalny had been serving multiple sentences in a maximum security prison for fraud, extremism and other charges he denied as politically motivated. He was arrested shortly after returning to Russia following his recovery from a 2020 poisoning attempt that nearly killed him.

A chorus of European leaders have also been quick to blame the Putin regime. Russia's prison service, which reported the death Friday, says "all necessary measures" were taken to save Navalny after he "felt unwell after a walk," and that an investigation is underway.

Here's the latest:

  • More from Biden: Biden said the US doesn't yet know "exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was the consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did." The US president said the opposition leader had "bravely stood up to the corruption, the violence, and all the bad things that the Putin government was doing." He also said reports of Navalny's death should galvanize the United States to provide funding for Ukraine in the war against Russia. Elsewhere in Washington, Sens. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and Bill Cassidy, a Republican, will introduce a bill to rename a section of a street near the Russian ambassador's residence "Alexei Navalny Way."
  • Dozens detained in Russia: At least 100 people have been detained across Russia for attending vigils and rallies following Navalny's death, according to OVD-Info, a human rights group that monitors Russian repression. Rallies sprung up in cities from Rostov-on-Don to St. Petersburg and the capital of Moscow. Many Muscovites who spoke to CNN on Friday described a sense of hopelessness. "You begin to have a desire to leave because you stop believing in positive changes," said Artur, a 27-year-old biologist interviewed by Agence France-Presse.
  • Analysis: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh said Navanly's death comes at an unexpected time for Russia and the Kremlin. It does not seem that Putin needed Navalny to die now. The dissident’s voice had been quieted as he served time on the Arctic circle. "Yet still, Vladimir Putin felt a degree of threat," Paton Walsh wrote. News of Navalny's death came shortly before Russia's presidential election, scheduled to take place on March 17, where Putin is widely expected to win a fifth term.
  • Dive deeper: You can review Navalny's life in photos and view this timeline of key events for the opposition figure. The CNN film chronicling the attempted assassination of Navalny in 2020 airs Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on CNN and is streaming on Max.

This post has been updated with the latest total of people detained at protests and vigils.

7:38 p.m. ET, February 16, 2024

Hillary Clinton says Navalny's death is a warning to those who think they can "make a deal" with Putin

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with NN's Christiane Amanpour on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Friday, February 16.
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with NN's Christiane Amanpour on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Friday, February 16. CNN

Alexey Navalny's reported death sends a strong message to people in the United States who think they can "somehow make a deal" with Russian President Vladimir Putin, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN.

Clinton described the Russian opposition figure's death as "tragic" in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Friday.

"It is a tragedy for Russia, that someone who was willing to stand up and speak out and really represent a different future for Russia should be killed," she said.

Clinton said she had become well-acquainted with Navalny's daughter and wife.

The former secretary of state said Navalny's death sends a message to "people in Europe and in the United States" who "think that you can somehow make a deal with Putin." 

"A dictator, as (Putin) is, intends only to dominate — and if that means killing your opposition, as he's done with so many people over so many years, or invading a peaceful neighbor and trying to bend it to his will, that's what he will do," she added. 

7:40 p.m. ET, February 16, 2024

Over 100 detained across Russia for attending Navalny vigils, says human rights group

From CNN’s Eve Brennan and Uliana Pavlova

A frame from video from independent Russian news outlet SOTA, shows hows a skirmish between police and a protester in Moscow on Fridday, February 16.
A frame from video from independent Russian news outlet SOTA, shows hows a skirmish between police and a protester in Moscow on Fridday, February 16. SOTA

At least 100 people have been detained across Russia for attending vigils and rallies following the reported death of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, according to OVD-Info, a human rights group that monitors Russian repression.

There have been detentions across the country, including in Murmansk, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod and St. Petersburg.

At the many vigils across the country, people paid their respects to Navalny, including laying down flowers and carrying posters, social media and news agency videos show. Police are also seen walking some attendees into police vans. 

It's unclear how many people have been detained. OVD-Info reports some of those detained have already been released. 

The office of the prosecutor in Moscow warned Russians earlier Friday that demonstrations in the capital were not authorized and that attendees could be placed under administrative arrest.

This post has been updated with the latest total of Russians detained.

7:39 p.m. ET, February 16, 2024

Navalny had denounced Russia's invasion of Ukraine from prison. Read up on war developments here

From CNN's Haley Britzky, Olga Voitovych and Nadine Schmidt

Since he was imprisoned in 2021, Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine via social media and encouraged anti-war protests across the country.

The reported death of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most high-profile critic punctuates a crackdown on dissidence in Russia that has accelerated during the war.

Here’s the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine:

Attacks continue: At least five people were killed and five injured in Russian attacks in the Kharkiv, Kherson and Donetsk regions of Ukraine in the past 24 hours, local officials said Friday.

Frontline battle: Ukraine’s Third Separate Assault Brigade said at least 15,000 enemy troops are fighting on the front line in the town of Avdiivka, located in the eastern Donetsk region. Russia has been pummeling the town with airstrikes and artillery, while launching wave after wave of ground assaults by armored vehicles and soldiers. Ukraine’s new army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi and Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov this week visited soldiers on the front lines there.

A senior US defense official said Friday that Ukrainian forces fighting in Avdiivka are “running short on critical supplies, particularly ammunition.”  

Uncertain future: The senior US defense official issued a stark warning on Friday that if Congress does not approve more funding for security assistance to Ukraine, the US will not be able to provide Ukraine more air defenses, which will lead to more cities being "bombarded."

“We will see more civilians dying, and we will see Ukraine struggling to protect their critical infrastructure and their forward line of troops,” the official said, of allowing funding to lapse.

Cost of war: The US estimated the war in Ukraine has cost Russia up to $211 billion in efforts to upkeep operations, a senior defense official told reporters on Friday, and it has cost Russia an expected $1.3 trillion in lost economic growth. 

All of that is in addition to personnel losses, the official said. Officials estimate Russian forces have lost 315,000 people. The official also said Ukrainian forces have “sunk, destroyed, or damaged” at least 20 “medium-to-large Russian Federation Navy vessels” and one Russian tanker in the Black Sea.

Agreement with Germany: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday secured new military aid and signed a long-term security agreement with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. The security agreement, which will last for 10 years, commits Germany to supporting Ukraine with military aid and hitting Russia with sanctions and export controls, and ensuring that Russian assets remain frozen.

The latest battleground map:

7:40 p.m. ET, February 16, 2024

"Hope dies": Muscovites react to reports of Navalny's death

From CNN’s Eve Brennan

Moscow residents reacted to the news of Alexey Navalny’s reported death on Friday, with some describing it as “fate” while others said they are “shocked."

Some Muscovites laid flowers and a photo of Navalny at a makeshift memorial in the Russian capital, according to Reuters footage.

Valeria, a 23-year-old tour guide, called Navalny a "symbol" in an interview with Agence France-Presse.

"First of all, a symbol of opposition, a symbol of hope for some brighter future for Russia. And there's a feeling that with his death, this hope dies. If there had been still been any hope left, it is even less now than it was before," she said.

Artur, a 27-year-old biology student, told AFP:

"You begin to have a desire to leave because you stop believing in positive changes."

Vladimir, an 84-year-old former psychologist, called Navalny "a simply fundamental element of life for us."

Moscow resident Alexander told Reuters he thought Navalny’s death was “expected," adding, "The news said he was being kept in bad conditions that weren't fit to live in."

Meanwhile, Muscovite Tatiana said: “Anything can happen in life. I think it's fate, honestly.”

“It's not political or anything. I think that ... it's a shame. I'm shocked and upset. It's a shame for the family. He was a young man, should have lived a long time,” she added.

Another Moscow resident, Mikhail, said he believes “enemies” of Russia “should be dealt with, the sooner the better.”

“Glory to our world freedom and our president,” he said.

Navalny's supporters: Navalny garnered a sizable support base during his political career, organizing anti-government street protests, and using his blog and social media to expose alleged corruption in the Kremlin and in Russian business.

He and his supporters claimed his arrest and incarceration in 2021 were politically motivated, intended to muzzle his dissent against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

CNN's Anna Chernova, Niamh Kennedy and Christian Edwards contributed reporting.

1:43 p.m. ET, February 16, 2024

Moscow prosecutor's office warns protests related to Navalny's death are not authorized

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

The prosecutor's office in Moscow has warned that any demonstrations in the Russian capital over the reported death of Alexey Navalny have not been authorized. 

In a statement posted on its official website Friday, the prosecutor addressed individuals considering participating in a "mass action" in Moscow city center. 

"We draw attention to the fact that this mass event has not been coordinated with the city's executive authorities in accordance with the procedure established by law," the prosecutor stressed. 

The prosecutor warned that both appeals to participate and participation in unauthorized mass actions constitute offenses under Russian law and could result in individuals being placed under administrative arrest. 

1:43 p.m. ET, February 16, 2024

In pictures: Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny

From CNN Digital's Photo Team

Jailed Russian opposition figure and outspoken Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny has died at the age of 47, the Russian prison service said Friday.

Navalny "felt unwell after a walk" and "almost immediately" lost consciousness, the prison service said. It said it was investigating his "sudden death."

Navalny had long been a thorn in the side of President Vladimir Putin, exposing corruption in high places, campaigning against the ruling United Russia party, and orchestrating some of the biggest anti-government protests seen in recent years.

He returned to Russia in 2021 from Germany, where he had been treated after being poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. Upon his return, he was swiftly arrested on charges he dismissed as politically motivated.

US President Joe Biden and several European leaders have been quick to blame Putin for Navalny's death, though the exact circumstances remain unknown.

Alexey Navalny is seen behind the bars of a police van in Moscow after he was detained during protests in 2012.
Alexey Navalny is seen behind the bars of a police van in Moscow after he was detained during protests in 2012. Sergey Ponomarev/AP

Navalny listens to opposition leader Garry Kasparov as a committee meets in January 2012 to discuss a new protest in Moscow.
Navalny listens to opposition leader Garry Kasparov as a committee meets in January 2012 to discuss a new protest in Moscow. Anton Golubev/Reuters

Navalny and other members of Russia's opposition march in St. Petersburg, Russia, in February 2012. They were in Vladimir Putin's native city, demonstrating against his likely return to the Kremlin.
Navalny and other members of Russia's opposition march in St. Petersburg, Russia, in February 2012. They were in Vladimir Putin's native city, demonstrating against his likely return to the Kremlin. Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images

A journalist films Navalny's apartment in Moscow after it was searched by police in June 2012.
A journalist films Navalny's apartment in Moscow after it was searched by police in June 2012. Mikhail Voskresensky/Reuters

Navalny gestures during an appeal hearing at a court in Moscow in March 2017. He was sentenced to 15 days behind bars for resisting police during the opposition rally.
Navalny gestures during an appeal hearing at a court in Moscow in March 2017. He was sentenced to 15 days behind bars for resisting police during the opposition rally. Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

Navalny poses for a photo after unknown attackers splashed him in the face with an antiseptic green dye in April 2017. The attack caused vision damage in one eye.
Navalny poses for a photo after unknown attackers splashed him in the face with an antiseptic green dye in April 2017. The attack caused vision damage in one eye. Evgeny Feldman/Navalny Campaign via AP

Navalny, along with other opposition supporters in Moscow, pays tribute to the victims of a shopping mall fire in Siberia in March 2018.
Navalny, along with other opposition supporters in Moscow, pays tribute to the victims of a shopping mall fire in Siberia in March 2018. Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images

Navalny is surrounded by his wife, Yulia, and two children, Zakhar and Daria, while on a hospital bed in Berlin in September 2020. On social media, he said he was breathing on his own without medical support.
Navalny is surrounded by his wife, Yulia, and two children, Zakhar and Daria, while on a hospital bed in Berlin in September 2020. On social media, he said he was breathing on his own without medical support. Alexey Navalny/Instagram/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Navalny takes his seat on a Moscow-bound plane before taking off from Berlin in January 2021. Navalny was detained by police moments after landing in Russia.
Navalny takes his seat on a Moscow-bound plane before taking off from Berlin in January 2021. Navalny was detained by police moments after landing in Russia. Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

Navalny appears on video from the Arctic penal colony where he was serving prison time in January 2024. He died in February. Navalny "felt unwell after a walk" and "almost immediately" lost consciousness, the Russian prison service said Friday. It said it was investigating his "sudden death."
Navalny appears on video from the Arctic penal colony where he was serving prison time in January 2024. He died in February. Navalny "felt unwell after a walk" and "almost immediately" lost consciousness, the Russian prison service said Friday. It said it was investigating his "sudden death." Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

See more photos from Navalny's life here.

7:41 p.m. ET, February 16, 2024

Timing of Navalny's death suggests Putin "felt a degree of threat," CNN journalist says

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and Sana Noor Haq

In the weeks preceding Alexey Navalny's reported death on Friday, concerns for his welfare intensified after he was taken to a penal colony north of the Arctic Circle.

The timing of his death is significant "because it shows us something about how (Russian President) Vladimir Putin feels at this particular time," according to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.

"Navalny was pretty much as far out of the way as you could put him," he told CNN's This Morning on Friday. "He was out, it seems, of the political arena. He never really got a foothold in the electoral process ... yet still, Vladimir Putin felt a degree of threat."

It came shortly before Russia's presidential election, scheduled to take place on March 17, where Putin is widely expected to win a fifth term in a move that would see him retain power until at least 2030.

European leaders blame Putin: The exact circumstances of Navalny's death are unknown, but "we are hearing leading European politicians pointing the finger at the Kremlin," added Paton Walsh. A growing chorus of European leaders including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics and Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre have already cast blame on Moscow.

"Ultimately, you could not have a more sore reminder of the urgency of the danger that Vladimir Putin places to Europe with the Ukraine war entering into its third year, and to his own population in that autocratic environment," Paton Walsh said.