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Business News/ News / World/  Alexei Navalny death: Putin critic was set to be freed in prisoner swap before he died, says aide — watch video
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Alexei Navalny death: Putin critic was set to be freed in prisoner swap before he died, says aide — watch video

Vladimir Putin's critic Alexei Navalny was set to be freed from prison in exchange for a Russian agent in Germany, but Putin ordered his killing, according to Navalny's associate Maria Pevchikh.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died on February 16 at an Arctic prison colony where he was serving a 19-year jail term. (AFP)Premium
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died on February 16 at an Arctic prison colony where he was serving a 19-year jail term. (AFP)

Weeks before the death of Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critic, he was set to be freed from prison in exchange for a Russian agent imprisoned in Germany. However, Putin was unwilling to let him go free and ordered Navalny's killing, said one of Navalny's close associates.

“Navalny was supposed to be freed in the coming days," Maria Pevchikh said in a video statement posted on Monday. Negotiations were underway to trade Alexei Navalny along with two Americans, for a Russian agent imprisoned in Germany.

In her video message, Pevchikh also claimed that the idea of trading Navalny for Vadim Krasikov, a convicted Russian assassin serving a life sentence in Germany, was presented to Vladimir Putin by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich,

Talks to release Navalny had reached  “final stage"

The negotiations to release Navalny had reached the “final stage" after two efforts. However, Pevchikh accused the Russian president of ordering the killing of Navalny because he was unwilling to let his most outspoken critic go free.

Vadim Krasikov, who was expected to be traded for Navalny, had links to Russia's Federal Security Service, known as the FSB. At present, he is serving a life sentence in Germany for the 2019 killing of a former Chechen rebel in a Berlin park. 

According to Bloomberg, the US and Russia have been negotiating a deal to finalise a swap involving Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and businessman Paul Whelan. Gershkovich was detained by the FSB on allegations of spying. He was detained by the FSB in March last year. Whelan, a former US Marine, was sentenced to jail for 16 years in 2020 on spying charges which he rejects.

On being asked about the prisoner exchange negotiations between Russia and the US, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Bloomberg, “I know nothing about this agreement."

In her video message, Pevchikh didn't mention the name of the two Americans who were a part of the prisoner swap.

“Putin was clearly told that the only way to get Krasikov is to exchange him for Navalny," said Pevchikh. Instead, he decided to “get rid of the bargaining chip" and “offer someone else when the time comes."

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Published: 26 Feb 2024, 10:06 PM IST
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