Updated March 18th, 2024 at 09:55 IST

Putin Says He Agreed to Prisoner Swap Involving Alexei Navalny Just Days Before His Death

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that he agreed to a prisoner swap involving Alexei Navalny before he passed away in an Arctic prison last month.

Reported by: Bhagyasree Sengupta
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Late Opposition leader Alexei Navalny | Image:AP
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Moscow – After clinching the victory in the 2024 Russian Presidential Elections, President Vladimir Putin claimed that he agreed to a prisoner swap involving his archenemesis Alexei Navalny before he passed away in an Arctic prison last month. While addressing a gathering in central Moscow after early results reflected that he had won the presidential elections, Putin mentioned that “unnamed people” made an offer to release Navalny in a swap deal with the West. The Russian leader claimed that he agreed to the swap just days before he died, The Guardian reported. 

“The person who spoke to me hadn’t finished his sentence, and I said I agree. But, unfortunately, what happened happened,” the Russian leader averred. He went on to call the demise of the Russian opposition leader a “sad event”. “I agreed under one condition: we swap him, and he doesn’t come back. But such is life. When things like that happen you cannot do anything about it – that’s life," he added. Allies of Navalny including his wife Yulia Navalnaya claimed in the past that the 71-year-old Russian President had the opposition leader killed in jail to sabotage a prisoner swap deal in which Navalny was reportedly scheduled to be swapped with a convicted hitman jailed in Germany.

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Navalny's ally react

The opposition leader's longtime ally Leonid Volkov claimed that Putin's comments confirmed that Putin was behind the death of Navalny. “Putin called Navalny by name for the first time. A month after he cynically killed him. And he confirmed it himself - he killed so as not to exchange it. The blood-sucking bug revels in impunity. It will burst soon, there will be some splashing,” Volkov wrote on X, formally known as Twitter. “Putin killed Alexei Navalny. And now he has decided he doesn’t need to pretend any more. He’s confirmed it himself,” he added.

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Meanwhile, Navalny's widow Yulia Navalnaya urged her supporters to gather in masses in the symbolic show of strength, called “Noon against Putin”. Navalnaya was making an appearance at the Russian embassy in Berlin, where she was welcomed with thunderous applause. “You give me hope that everything is not in vain, that we will still fight,” she said in a post on Sunday. She also mentioned that she had written “Navalny” on her ballot paper.

Last month, Maria Pevchikh, a close ally of the opposition leader said in a video that Navalny was in line to be exchanged for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian FSB hitman who was serving a life sentence in Germany. Karsikov was responsible for the assassination of a Chechen former separatist in Berlin.

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Published March 18th, 2024 at 09:55 IST