Alexei Navalny ally says he was about to be freed in a prisoner swap

Russian opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, was about to being freed in a prisoner swap at the time of his death, according to one of his close allies.

Anti-corruption activist, Maria Pevchikh, who is chairperson of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, made the claim on Navalny’s YouTube channel on Monday.

She said the late politician and two United States citizen were to be exchanged for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian FSB officer who is serving time in Germany for the assassination of a former Chechen rebel commander.

“I received confirmation that negotiations were in their final stages on the evening of 15 February. On 16 February, Alexei was killed,” she said in the video.

Pevchikh also repeated an allegation made by supporters and Navalny’s family that President Vladimir Putin had him killed.

She said Putin could not tolerate the though of him being free.

Navalny died in his cell at a penal colony in Siberia where he was serving sentences that would have kept him in prison for decades for charges that were widely seen as politically motivated.

Prison officials said the 47-year-old had lost consciousness after being out for a walk and died shortly afterward. His death certificate states he died of natural causes.

The Kremlin has denied Russian state involvement in his death.

Navalny’s body was handed over on Saturday to his mother who was reportedly asked to agree to a “secret” burial, failing which he would be buried at the prison colony where he died.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, his spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, said they were still looking for a suitable venue to hold a public funeral for the late politician.

Arrangements for Navalny’s interment are yet to be announced, but Russian telegram channels report that he may be buried in a Moscow cemetery on 29 February.

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