Alexei Navalny 'killed with KGB punch to the heart' after being forced to spend hours outside in freezing temperatures

21 February 2024, 06:38

Alexei Navalny died in an Arctic prison
Alexei Navalny died in an Arctic prison. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Kit Heren

Alexei Navalny was likely killed by a punch to the heart, a technique once taught to KGB officers, a Russian prisons campaigner has claimed.

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Opposition campaigner Navalny, whose death in an Arctic prison was announced last Friday, would first have been weakened by being exposed to the elements for hours, according to Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the human rights group Gulagu.net.

Reports emerged after Navalny's death that he was bruised, but his family have not been able to see his body. No official cause of death has been given, although some media reports suggested he had a blood clot.

Osechkin said that the Putin critic was likely kept outside in open air solitary confinement, where temperatures could go as low as -27C, for two and a half hours.

He told the Times: "I think that they first destroyed his body by keeping him out in the cold for a long time and slowing the blood circulation down to a minimum.

“And then it becomes very easy to kill someone, within seconds, if the operative has some experience in this.

Read more: Navalny’s body found ‘covered in bruises’ consistent with ’signs of seizure’ in Arctic morgue

Read more: Putin plans to launch ‘killing spree’ against Russia critics in the UK after Alexei Navalny 'murder'

Navalny in 2020
Navalny in 2020. Picture: Getty

Citing a prisons system source, Osechkin said that the bruising was consistent with the one-punch technique.

“It is an old method of the KGB’s special forces divisions, he said. "They trained their operatives to kill a man with one punch in the heart, in the centre of the body. It was a hallmark of the KGB.”

Navalny's widow Yulia Navalnaya has said she thought her husband's death was caused by Novichok - with which he was poisoned in 2020 - but Osechkin said this was unlikely.

He said: “It’s possible of course, but when someone is under the control of the prison system there are many options as to how to kill them.

"Novichok would leave a trace in his body and would lead directly back to Putin, given he has tried it once before."

Widow of Alexei Navalny accuses Vladimir Putin of killing him

Osechkin said that the order to kill Navalny is likely to have come directly from the Kremlin.

He said: "From what I know from my sources, it was a special operation that had been prepared several days in advance,” he said.

"It was a command from Moscow because without Moscow it would not have been possible to dismantle the cameras in the way that they did."

Navalnaya has vowed to "find out who exactly and how exactly" her husband was killed.

She added: "We will name names and show faces. The most important thing we can do for Alexei and for ourselves is to continue to fight."

Watch Again: James O'Brien and Bill Browder on Alexei Navalny's death | 16/02/24

Meanwhile activist and anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder has claimed that Putin wants to wipe out at least 12 people in the UK following Navalny's death.

“He will embark on a killing spree which will include all enemies in the UK,” he told the Mirror.

“The fact he would kill the most popular and prominent opposition politician in plain sight without fear of repercussion says that people who are opposing Putin in Russia and abroad are in much more serious risk of assassination,” he continued.

“The killing of Alexei Navalny has shown Putin has lost all restraint and that he will embark on a major ­international killing spree which will include against all his enemies in the UK.

“I believe there are at least a dozen people here at risk and they will focus on ­high-profile ones. Politicians are at risk.”

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