Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition leader, politician, lawyer, and anti-corruption activist. He came to international prominence by organizing demonstrations, and running for office, to advocate reforms against corruption in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Putin’s government. Navalny has been described as “the man Vladimir Putin fears most” by The Wall Street Journal. Navalny is a Russian Opposition Coordination Council member, the leader of the Russia of the Future party and the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK).
Navalny publishes materials about corruption in Russia, organizes political demonstrations, and promotes his campaigns through his YouTube channel and Twitter account. In a 2011 radio interview, he described Russia’s ruling party United Russia as a “party of crooks and thieves,” which became a popular epithet. Navalny and the FBK have published investigations detailing alleged corruption by high-ranking Russian officials.
Navalny has been arrested several times by Russian authorities, ran in the Moscow mayoral election in 2013, and tried to run for President of Russia during the 2018 election but was barred by Russia’s Central Electoral Commission and later the Supreme Court of Russia due to a criminal conviction.
On August 20, 2020, Navalny was hospitalized in serious condition after he was poisoned with a nerve agent during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. He was medically evacuated to Berlin and discharged on September 22. Russian prosecutors have refused to open a criminal investigation into the matter. The EU and the UK responded by imposing sanctions on six senior Russian officials and a state chemical center. On January 17, 2021, he returned to Russia, where he was immediately detained in Moscow on accusations of violating terms of a suspended jail sentence.