Russian opposition leader corresponded with Israeli ex-minister before his death

Alexei Navalny, the Russian activist and critic of Vladimir Putin found dead at a penal colony, had contacted Israeli former prisoner of Zion.

By World Israel News Staff

Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist found dead in a Russian penal colony recently had been in contact with a former Israeli government minister and ex-prisoner of Zion.

Natan Sharansky, a Russian-Jewish refusenik born Anatoly Scharansky who was jailed by Soviet authorities for nine years before immigrating to Israel, spoke out Monday regarding his correspondence with Navalny, head of the Russia of the Future movement and frequent Putin critic who was found dead Friday at the Kharp penal colony in Russia’s artic circle.

Speaking with Israel’s Russian-language Lutsheye Radio Monday, Sharansky said Navalny reached out to him in early 2023, and that the two exchanged letters from March through April of that year.

In their correspondence, the two noted their imprisonment at the same penal colony, which Sharansky referred to as his “alma mater.”

Sharansky also compared both his and Navalny’s time in SHIZO, a type of solitary confinement.

“In our brief but very emotional exchange, I told him that I’d like to keep my record of the longest stay in SHIZO, but it looked like he would beat me there.”

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Navalny, Sharansky said, had been inspired by the former refusenik’s memoir, Fear No Evil.

“The ‘virus of freedom’ is far from being eradicated,” Navalny wrote, Sharansky said. “Hundreds of thousands are not scared to speak out for freedom and against the war, despite the threats.”

“Hundreds of them are in prisons, but I am confident that they will not be broken and they will not give up. Many of them draw strength and inspiration from your story and your legacy. I am definitely one of them.”

Sharansky blamed the 47-year-old’s death on his extended time in the SHIZO solitary confinement, a punitive isolation used at the penal colony. Navalny was held in SHIZO for over 300 days during his three years in the penal colony.

“It’s clear that this terrible revengeful regime physically destroyed him.”

Comparing Putin’s persecution of political opponents to Stalin’s regime, Sharansky called for further international sanctions on the Russian president.