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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Navalny’s Ally: Close to Freedom in Prisoner Swap

Maria Pevchikh, an ally of the late Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, claimed on Monday that Navalny was on the verge of being released through a prisoner swap before his death. Pevchikh, speaking on YouTube, reiterated her accusation that President Vladimir Putin orchestrated Navalny’s death.

According to Pevchikh, negotiations were underway to exchange Navalny and two unidentified U.S. nationals for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian FSB security service operative incarcerated in Germany for a murder. She asserted that these talks were in their final stages when Navalny passed away at an Arctic penal colony on February 16. The Kremlin has consistently denied any involvement in Navalny’s death, citing his death certificate, which attributes the cause to natural factors.

While Pevchikh did not disclose the names of the U.S. nationals involved in the potential swap, the United States has expressed efforts to repatriate Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, and Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine.

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Pevchikh emphasized that Navalny could have been free had the exchange proceeded as planned. She alleged that negotiations were at an advanced stage on the evening of February 15. Pevchikh claimed that Navalny’s demise, a day later, was a result of Putin’s unwillingness to see him released.

Furthermore, Pevchikh revealed that Navalny’s allies had been actively working on a plan since the beginning of the Ukraine war to secure his release through a broader prisoner exchange involving “Russian spies in exchange for political prisoners.” Despite persistent efforts and attempts to engage intermediaries, including reaching out to the late Henry Kissinger, Pevchikh criticized Western governments’ lack of necessary political will. She stated that despite verbal assurances and promises, United States and Germany officials had not taken concrete actions to facilitate Navalny’s release.

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