Navalny's Death Allegedly Intended to Halt Exchange with Convicted Russian Hitman

Written by Camilla Jessen

Feb.26 - 2024 2:28 PM CET

Photo: Alexey Gorovoi /
Photo: Alexey Gorovoi /
Alexei Navalny was allegedly killed in prison to prevent his exchange for a convicted Russian hitman, in a controversial move that has sparked international outcry and speculation.

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Maria Pevchikh, an associate of the deceased Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, alleges that Navalny was deliberately killed in prison. This act was purportedly to prevent a potential prisoner swap involving Vadim Krasikov, a Russian hitman serving a life sentence in Germany.

Navalny, known for his outspoken criticism of Vladimir Putin, died on Feb. 16 in a penal colony. His death has attracted worldwide criticism towards Putin, with many questioning the circumstances surrounding it.

Reports, including one from the German newspaper Bild, suggest there were talks between German, U.S., and Russian officials about swapping Navalny for Krasikov. Pevchikh, in a video on Navalny's YouTube channel, mentioned that these discussions were nearing completion right before Navalny's death.

The Alleged Swap and Its Fallout

Pevchikh alleges that Putin was advised by Roman Abramovich that exchanging Navalny for Krasikov was a viable option for Krasikov's return. However, Putin decided to have Navalny killed to consider other individuals for the exchange, which was supposed to include two Americans as well.

Her claims, though significant, are not backed by concrete evidence.

Krasikov has been in jail since 2021 for the murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin, an act tied to Russian intelligence.

The Wall Street Journal had earlier reported on the potential for such an exchange, with Navalny's name mentioned as a possible candidate. Putin, in a discussion with Tucker Carlson, hinted that the U.S. could negotiate Krasikov's swap for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

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