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Court video of Navalny in Russian prison day before reported death seems to show Putin critic in good health

Alexey Navalny appeared in court before death
Watch Alexey Navalny's final court appearance a day before Russia reported his death 00:27

The day before Russian prison authorities said fierce Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny had died in a far-flung penal colony, the opposition leader and long-time thorn in President Vladimir Putin's side appeared in a courtroom via live video link from the prison, looking happy and healthy. Navalny can even be heard in the video joking with the judge.

"Your honor, I will send you my personal account number so that you can use your huge federal judge's salary to fuel my personal account, because I am running out of money, and thanks to your decisions, it will run out even faster," a smiling Navalny said into the camera beaming his image into the Moscow courtroom. "So, send it over."

Navalny, who survived at least two suspected poisonings during his career as an anti-corruption campaigner and political opposition leader, died in the remote IK-3 penal colony after he went for a walk, suddenly "felt unwell" and then collapsed "almost immediately," according to the Office of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District.

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny appears in a Russian court via video link from the IK-3 penal colony in Kharp, in Russia's far northern Yamal-Nenets region, Feb. 15, 2024, a day before prison authorities said he had died after going for a walk at the prison. SOTAVISION/Reuters

"Medical workers from the institution arrived immediately and an emergency medical team was called. All necessary resuscitation measures were carried out, but did not yield positive results," the prison authority said in a statement. "Emergency doctors confirmed the death of the convict."

Navalny's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said her team was unable to confirm the information provided by the prison service, adding that Navalny's lawyer was on his way to the penal colony in the remote town of Kharp and that they would share more information as they got it.

The IK-3 penal colony is about 1,200 miles from Moscow, in Russia's far north Urals region. 

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Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Putin had been briefed on Navalny's death, and told journalists that "it should be up to the medics to clarify" the cause.

"For more than a decade, the Russian government, Putin, persecuted, poisoned and imprisoned Alexei Navalny and now, reports of his death," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday. "If these reports are accurate, our hearts go out to his wife and his family. Beyond that, his death in a Russian prison and the fixation and fear of one man only underscores the weakness and rot at the heart of the system that Putin has built. Russia is responsible for this. We'll be talking to the many other countries concerned about Alexei Navalny, especially if these reports bear out to be true," Blinken said.

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