Death of a dissident

How Navalny's fight against Putin will endure

Alexei Navalny.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
(Image credit: Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin has finally silenced Alexei Navalny. The Russian president likes to poison his enemies: That's how whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko was killed, how dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza ended up in a coma, and how former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko was disfigured. But after Navalny survived a Kremlin poisoning with the deadly nerve agent Novichok in 2020, he refused to go into exile, instead bravely returning to Russia and certain imprisonment. So Putin had Navalny slowly tortured, starving and freezing him over months in prison, and almost certainly gave the order to kill him last week. What was Navalny saying that was so intolerable? In witty, mocking YouTube videos, he exposed the wealth that Putin had stolen from the Russian people, a dragon's hoard of palaces, yachts, private jets. "This isn't a country house," Navalny said in one video, showing Putin's $1.3 billion private resort. "It's an entire city, or rather a kingdom. It has impregnable fences, its own harbor, a church, a no-fly zone — even its own border crossing." That's the video Navalny's team posted on his behalf soon after his 2021 arrest. It racked up more than 100 million views in just two weeks and inspired protests across the country. 

Though Navalny is gone, his message will not be silenced. His Anti-Corruption Foundation is still operating (you can find it at acf.international) and will keep on exposing the crimes of Putin and the oligarchs, what Navalny called the "party of crooks and thieves." Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, says she will carry on her husband's work, and so will their daughter, Daria. They will continue to remind the world that, as Daria said while accepting the 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on her father's behalf, "the pacification of dictators and tyrants never works." Let's hope those Republicans in Congress who have effectively been serving Putin by blocking aid to Ukraine are listening.

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