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“I am not wondering who killed him. It's clear as day Putin did” – political prisoner Ilya Yashin on Navalny's death

Ilya Yashin, a Russian opposition politician who is serving a prison sentence for spreading information about the killing of civilians by Russian troops in the city of Bucha, released a statement on the death of his long-time ally and friend Alexei Navalny. The Insider quotes his statement, cited in the politician's social media accounts, in full:

News takes a while to reach the colony barracks, and it wasn’t until yesterday that I learned about Alexei Navalny’s death. It is hard to convey how deeply shaken I was. It is hard to think straight. The pain and the horror are unbearable.
Yet I refuse to stay silent. I will say what I believe must be said.
I am not wondering what happened to Navalny. I have no doubt that he was murdered. For three years, Alexei was in the hands of the securocrats who had already staged an unsuccessful attempt on his life in 2020. Now they have finished the job.
I am not wondering who killed him. It's clear as day: Putin did. He is a war criminal. Navalny was his key opponent within Russia and inspired fierce loathing in the Kremlin. Putin had both the motive and the means. I am convinced he ordered Navalny’s murder.
I realize state propaganda is about to start manipulating public opinion. They will say that Navalny's death is detrimental to the president, that it makes no sense to kill him one month before the election, that Putin’s top priority is global politics, and that he is too busy to pay attention to some inmate... All of it is complete nonsense and can be discarded out of hand. After Alexei’s poisoning in 2020, propagandists said that “if Putin wanted to kill Navalny, he would have finished the job.” Fair point. Putin wanted to kill him, and now he finally did. He went about it in a demonstrative way, too, timing the assassination with the eve of Russia’s presidential election to make sure no one so much as doubts his involvement. The way he got rid of Wagner chief Prigozhin was just as demonstrative – it was as though he wanted to leave no room for doubt.
In Putin's mind, this is how you assert power: through assassinations, violence, and public acts of revenge. This is not a politician's mindset. This is the mindset of a mob boss. So let us be clear: Putin stands at the helm of the criminal structure that has fused with the Russian state. He is free from any moral or legal constraints. He rules by fear, jailing and physically eliminating those who refuse to be afraid.
This is why Boris Nemtsov was shot. This is why Alexei Navalny was murdered. For three years in the penal colony, they tortured him in punishment cells, trying to break him. They failed – and it cost him his life.
The standoff between Navalny and Putin showed the true scale of their personalities. Alexei will go down in history as a man of exceptional courage, one who never strayed from the chosen path. He pushed forward, disregarding fear and death. He pushed forward with a smile, holding his head high. He died a hero.
Meanwhile, Putin will forever remain a small man who stumbled into immense power by chance. He will forever be someone who hides in the bunker, stabs his enemies in the back, and holds an entire nation hostage to his self-esteem issues. But I do not want him dead. I want him to answer for his crimes not only in the afterlife but also in an earthly court.
Alexei Navalny was my friend. As was Boris Nemtsov. We had a common cause; we dedicated our lives to making Russia peaceful, free, and happy. Today, both my friends are dead. I feel a pitch-black emptiness inside. And trust me, I am acutely aware of my personal risks. I am in jail; my life is in Putin’s hands, and it is in danger. But I will continue to stay the course.
Standing over Boris’s dead body in February 2015, I swore to myself not to fear, not to give up, and not to flee. Mourning Alexei nine years later, I can only repeat my oath.
For as long as my heart keeps beating in my chest, I will not stop fighting tyranny. For as long as I am alive, I will fear no evil. For as long as I breathe, I will stay with my people.
You have my word.
Alexei, dear brother, may you rest in peace.
Yulia, Lyudmila Ivanovna and Anatoly Ivanovich, Oleg, Dasha, Zakhar – stay strong.
My thoughts are with you.

On February 16, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service in the Far Northern Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area reported Navalny dead in the penal colony where he had been held since December. His body is yet to be released to his family. According to Navalny’s team, Russia’s Investigative Committee will keep custody of it for at least another 14 days.

European and U.S. leaders have declared that Russian president Vladimir Putin is responsible for Navalny's death in prison. The Kremlin has dismissed these accusations as “wild and completely unacceptable” until the results of the forensic examination are released.

On the fourth day after her husband's death, Yulia Navalnaya appeared in a video address, vowing to continue Alexei’s cause. She went on to meet with EU leaders.

Yashin, who was sentenced to 8.5 years in a penal colony for spreading “fakes” about the army — a “crime” commonly charged in Russia in order to silence those who tell the truth about Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” — is serving his sentence in IK-3 in Safonovo near Smolensk.

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