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Politico: Western officials say no Navalny prisoner swap was offered to Russia

by Olena Goncharova and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 27, 2024 3:54 AM 2 min read
Flowers and candles are left at a memorial on Feb. 16, 2024, in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin, after the announcement that the Kremlin's most prominent critic Alexei Navalny had died in an Arctic prison. (John Macdougall/AFP via Getty Images)
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Negotiations were in progress for a prisoner exchange involving Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny at the time of his death on Feb. 16, but no proposal had been presented to the Kremlin, two Western officials briefed on the discussions told Politico.

When asked if there were ongoing talks regarding a prisoner exchange involving Navalny prior to his death, one Western official said "no formal offer had been made, but early discussions to that effect were underway." The official further disclosed that the U.S. and Germany were engaged in conversations about potentially forming some kind of deal.

Navalny, Putin's main political opponent, died on Feb. 16 in a penal colony in the town of Kharp, Yamal Nenets Autonomous District. He had been convicted in several fabricated criminal cases as part of the Kremlin's crackdown on dissent.

Leaders around the world have blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for his death. It remains unclear whether the harsh prison conditions caused his death or whether it was an intentional murder.

Another Western official corroborated that negotiations were ongoing, emphasizing that not even an informal offer had been conveyed to Moscow.

An associate of Navalny’s uploaded a video on YouTube on Feb. 26 alleging that discussions for a prisoner swap to secure Navalny's release had been underway for several months prior to his death. Maria Pevchikh additionally said that "by the spring of last year our plan was approved." Navalny was killed in prison to prevent his exchange with Vadim Krasikov, a convicted Russian hitman sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany, according to Pevchikh.

The officials who spoke to Politico declined to provide further details on the discussions, but noted there was no plan so far advanced as Pevchikh claimed.

Navalny’s death preceded by long list of Putin critics’ murders
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death in jail on Feb. 16 follows a long list of murders and suspicious deaths of opponents of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Since he came to power in 1999, more than 20 Putin critics have been killed or died mysteriously. Many other enemies of the

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