Alexei Navalny first became known for his anti-corruption investigations. The Anti-Corruption Foundation he founded has published the results of more than 150 investigations and continues to expose Putin and his accomplices. The largest of these investigative reports, “Putin’s Palace”, has reached over 125 million views on YouTube.
Navalny’s team organized the largest protest rallies in modern Russian history. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country took to the streets at Alexei’s calls to protest against Putin.
In 2013, Navalny ran for mayor of Moscow and received 27% of the votes, despite massive vote rigging in favor of his pro-government opponent Sergey Sobyanin. In 2016, he announced that he would run for president. He opened campaign headquarters in dozens of cities and traveled all over Russia holding rallies. That’s when assassins from FSB, Russia’s secret police, began hunting Alexei on Putin’s orders.
In August 2020, Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a deadly chemical warfare agent. Alexei miraculously survived and returned to Russia because, as a Russian politician, he could not imagine himself living in another country. The film about Navalny investigating his own poisoning won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
In January 2021, Alexei was detained at the airport and locked up for 3.5 years on trumped-up charges. Then new charges were fabricated against him and he was sentenced to an additional 9 years in a maximum security penal colony. But even that was not the end of the story. Several more cases have been opened against Navalny, and he may now face a total of over 30 years in prison.
Back in 2014, Navalny condemned Putin’s annexation of Crimea, which would lead to a full-scale invasion of Ukraine eight years later. On February 24, 2022, speaking in court while being sentenced to yet another prison term on fabricated charges, Navalny gave an anti-war speech and then called on all Russians to protest against the war in Ukraine. Even while in prison, he continues to condemn the crimes of Putin’s regime.
For maintaining his struggle and refusing to stop calling the war a war, Navalny is repeatedly put in a punitive confinement cell. This is a tiny room where the conditions are torturous even by the standards of a maximum-security prison. Each day in there is a serious test for Alexei’s health, which has already been damaged by Novichok. In November 2022, Navalny was transferred to a one-man cell in which conditions are barely better than in the punishment cell, but which allows the prison authorities to indefinitely deprive him of family visits.