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17 Mar, 2024 21:38

Putin reveals he agreed to swap Navalny

The Russian president has said he was ready to exchange the opposition figure for prisoners being held in the West
Putin reveals he agreed to swap Navalny

Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed that he agreed in principle to swap opposition figure Alexey Navalny, who died in a penal colony last month, for prisoners being held in the West.

Speaking to supporters on Sunday, Putin said that senior Russian officials had floated the idea of a prisoner exchange a few days before Navalny’s death. The activist passed away in February at the Polar Wolf colony inside the Arctic Circle, where he was serving a lengthy sentence on a number of charges, including those stemming from a fraud case.

The person who talked to me did not even finish the phrase. I said ‘I agree.’ But what happened happened.

The president did not mention which or how many jailed Russian citizens could have been exchanged. He noted that the only condition for the swap would have been that Navalny would not return to the country and stay in the West.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), an NGO formerly headed by Navalny, has previously claimed that the opposition figure was to be swapped for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian national convicted of murder in Germany in late 2021, and that talks on this were “at the final stage.” Maria Pevchikh, the current head of FBK, has also claimed that Navalny was killed to prevent the swap. Moscow has rejected all accusations on the matter, calling for patience until the end of the investigation.

Putin’s comments come as he secured a landslide victory in the presidential election, securing his fifth term in office with an estimated 87% share of the votes amid a 74 percent turnout, according to the Central Election Commission.