Fact Check

Did Russia Post Navalny's Death Notice Just 2 Minutes After Official Time of Death?

"The causes of death are being established," the official notice stated.

Published Feb. 16, 2024

Updated Feb. 20, 2024
 ( Getty Images)
Image Via Getty Images
Claim:
Russian dissident Alexei Navalny's death notice was posted just two minutes after his official time of death.

On Feb. 16, 2024, the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken and formidable opponent, Alexei Navalny, was announced by the Russian prison service. The former lawyer was 47, and he was serving a 19-year prison sentence on charges of extremism in an isolated penal colony above the Arctic Circle.

The notice, released by the prison service of the Yamalo-Nenets region and translated from Russian by Reuters, read as follows:

On Feb. 16, 2024, in penal colony number 3, convict Alexei Navalny felt unwell after a walk, almost immediately losing consciousness.

The medical staff of the institution arrived immediately, and an ambulance team was called.

All necessary resuscitation measures were carried out, which did not yield positive results. Doctors of the ambulance stated the death of the convict.

The causes of death are being established.

The notice indicated it was last updated at 2:19 p.m. Feb. 16.

According to a Feb. 17 tweet by Navalny's spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, he was "murdered" and the official time of his death was 2:17 p.m. Feb. 16, "according to the official message to Alexey's mother."

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, tweeted on Feb. 17 that when Navalny's lawyer and mother arrived at the colony, they were told that the cause of Navalny's death was "sudden death syndrome."

On Feb. 19, Navalny's anti-corruption foundation posted an update in which they reaffirm that his official time of death was 2:17, pictured below:

(Image via acf.international)

The Kremlin has not been transparent in releasing more specific details the exact cause of Navalny's death; therefore, information surrounding the exact cause and time of Navalny's death cannot be absolutely confirmed without independent investigation. Because of this, we rate this claim as "Unproven." If more information surrounding the details of his death is confirmed, this story will be updated accordingly.

Many world leaders — including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and U.S. President Joe Biden — publicly pointed to Putin as being behind Navalny's death. Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, spoke at the Munich Security Conference within hours of the announcement of her husband's death. In her speech, she stated that she did not know whether to believe the report of his death because "we cannot trust Putin and the Putin government. They always lie."

Just one day before the announcement of his death, on Feb. 15, Navalny was seen in a video-link court hearing in which he joked with the judge about sending him money because he was running out of funds due to the judge's decisions.

Sources

Alexei Navalny Appears Healthy in Video-Link Court Hearing on Day before His Deathwww.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFGlH9WS5yI. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.

'Alexey Navalny Timeline: From Poisoning to Prison to Death'. Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/2/16/hold-alexei-navalny-timeline-from-poisoning-to-prison. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.

Bayer, Lili. 'Yulia Navalnaya Takes Stage at Munich Meeting after News of Husband's Death'. The Guardian, 16 Feb. 2024. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/16/yulia-navalnaya-munich-security-conference-navalny-putin.

Faulconbridge, Guy, et al. 'Putin Foe Alexei Navalny Dies in Jail, West Holds Russia Responsible'. Reuters, 16 Feb. 2024. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/jailed-russian-opposition-leader-navalny-dead-prison-service-2024-02-16/.

Guldbæk, Karoline. 'Bekrefter dødsfall'. dagbladet.no, 17 Feb. 2024, https://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/bekrefter-dodsfall/80992002.

Henderson, Cameron, et al. 'Putin Is Responsible for Navalny's Death, Says Biden - Follow Latest'. The Telegraph, 16 Feb. 2024. www.telegraph.co.uk, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2024/02/16/russia-ukraine-zelensky-putin-war-latest-news5/.

'Https://Twitter.Com/Gerashchenko_en/Status/1758479753898504421?T=137'. X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/Gerashchenko_en/status/1758479753898504421?t=137. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.

'Https://Twitter.Com/ioannZH/Status/1758831082500165791'. X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/ioannZH/status/1758831082500165791. Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

'Https://Twitter.Com/Kira_Yarmysh/Status/1758801430125695199'. X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/Kira_Yarmysh/status/1758801430125695199. Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

'Kremlin Foe Alexei Navalny's Team Confirms His Death and Says His Mother Is Searching for His Body'. AP News, 17 Feb. 2024, https://apnews.com/article/russia-alexei-navalny-death-opposition-leader-37da0915157576372d6493be7ad04b5c.

'Navalny's Death: The Full Russian Prison Service Statement'. Reuters, 16 Feb. 2024. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russian-prison-service-statement-about-navalnys-death-2024-02-16/.

'Western Officials and Kremlin Critics Blame Putin and His Government for Navalny's Death in Prison'. AP News, 16 Feb. 2024, https://apnews.com/article/russia-navalny-death-global-reactions-putin-19e7fd6318763627f6917a92678cd190.

'World Leaders Blame Putin's Government in Russia for Death of Alexei Navalny'. PBS NewsHour, 16 Feb. 2024, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/world-leaders-blame-putins-government-in-russia-for-death-of-alexei-navalny.

УФСИН России По Ямало-Ненецкому Автономному Округу Сообщает. 16 Feb. 2024, https://web.archive.org/web/20240216120742/https://89.fsin.gov.ru/news/detail.php?ELEMENT_ID=729444.

Updates

Feb. 20, 2024: This article was updated to include new information released by Navalny's team in the days following the announcement of his death.

Taija PerryCook is a Seattle-based journalist who previously worked for the PNW news site Crosscut and the Jordan Times in Amman.