The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

“The Legacy of Alexei Navalny: A Hope for a New Russia”

Political activist and the leader of Russian opposition Alexei Navalny dies in prison. What is the legacy he is leaving behind and why is it so important for Russia and the rest of the world?
Lisa Volovik
Alexei Navalny told the public to not give up if he is killed

Alexei Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition, died in February 2024 at the age of 47 in one of the most brutal prisons in Russia. Alexei Navalny was an anti-corruption political activist who acted against Vladimir Putin. Around the same time Putin came to power, Navalny started his career in politics and activism by joining Russia’s United Democratic Party. Throughout his political career, Navalny also established the Anti-Corruption Foundation, revealing the crimes of Putin’s regime. Navalny’s popularity grew and in a society where political dialogue was becoming increasingly restricted, Navalny was working to bring hope for a better Russia. Navalny’s death once again demonstrates the absurdity and cruelty of Putin’s regime, where opposition gets violently shut down and the only law that holds power is Putin’s law. While the death of Navalny becomes another dark moment for Russian opposition, the impact that the political activist has made lives on.


Throughout his career Navalny constantly inspired and led people to fight for their freedom and their right for a better government, even when it seemed harder than ever. In 2011 Navalny led protests of thousands of Russians who were outraged over reports of fraud in Russia’s parliamentary elections that year, drawing the largest anti-Kremlin demonstrations since Putin became president. “Navalny was a symbol of a potential democratic future. He was by far the most recognizable and most popular opposition leader in the country,” senior Mark Sotnikov said. 


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Russia’s government (Kremlin) saw Alexei Navalny as a great threat as he was bringing light on Russia’s authorities unlawful execution of their powers and reminding the public that things should be different in Russia. He faced many challenges throughout his political journey, including trials, imprisonment, house arrests and assassination attempts from the Kremlin. In August 2020, Navalny was hospitalized after being poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent. Five months after he was poisoned, Navalny came back to Moscow and was arrested upon arrival. His arrest encouraged tens of thousands of protesters, who demanded his release. This was one of the biggest public confrontations between the Kremlin and its critics in years. 


However,  in 2023, Navalny was sentenced to 19 years in prison for extremism charges, in addition to the nearly 12-year sentence he was already serving in a penal colony east of Moscow. 


Later the same year, he was transported to a colony north of the Arctic Circle to a “special regime” facility. His death was announced by the Russian Government officials in the winter of 2024. When his mother flew to the Arctic circle to take his body, they would not give it to her for more than a week, demanding that he would be buried in secret. 


The news of Navalyn’s death sparked a surge of protests and outcry not only in Russia, but globally, as his death created a new wave of fear and chaos across the Russian opposition movement, impacting people in Russia and around the world. For Russians who associate themselves with the opposition movement his death is a national tragedy, and while Russians get violently arrested for putting flowers on the grave of their true political leader, the world is reminded that a lot of Russians still want the best for their country. With Navalny’s death Russian opposition is once again silenced as they face yet another “dark moment”. The question that arises in Russia and across the world is whether the fact that the leader of the Russian opposition was killed in prison strengthens Putin’s dictatorship or only further highlights the weakness of such a regime. The Kremlin clearly fears opposition, fears activists, fears the impact Nalalny has made. They fear it so much they have to kill him, and yet the awareness and improvement that his death is supposed to bring about should outweigh the power Kremlin is so desperately trying to maintain.  


Navalny’s death is an inhumane tragedy that reminds the world about the cruel ways in which Putin deals with political dissidents. There are thousands of political prisoners in Russia unfairly sentenced to harsh and unlawful conditions for participating in civil activism and the opposition movement. Russian citizens get punished and censored even for making anti-Putin, anti-war, and other related posts on social media platforms. People are being wrongfully convicted in a country where having a voice is considered a federal crime.  


“Regarding Alexei Navalny’s death, it highlights the Russian government’s willingness to silence opposition voices. His legacy continues to inspire opposition movements, but his absence has weakened the anti-Putin opposition,” sophomore Maria Poveromo said.  

In context, the political situation in Russia is only getting worse, especially since February of 2022. Despite the financial support for Ukraine and sanction for Russia from the UN, the war in Ukraine does not seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. Russia keeps bombing civilians and committing a multitude of war crimes on a daily basis. 

Russia appears to be unilaterally opposing the sovereignty of Ukraine and threatening world peace,” world history and political science teacher Christopher Le Page said.

Russia is not a democratic government, but an authoritarian regime that commits war and civil crimes on a daily basis. When horrible events continue to occur, it is incredibly hard for the Russian opposition to keep fighting.

Yet, when Alexei Navalny was interviewed for the award-winning “Navalny” documentary, he was asked what everyone should do if or when he is killed. Navalny replied, “Do not give up, if they decide to kill me, it means we are incredibly strong. We need to utilize this power, to not give up.” 

Navalny started and promoted a movement the world needs to continue without him. In the hardest of times, he inspired people to have hope. Through the toughest punishments he stayed positive, cheering his family and his people up, leaving us an image of a smiling political prisoner making a heart with his hands as he gestured to his

wife in a defendant’s cage in court. Everything that Alexei Navalny could do for the dream of Russia’s better future, he did. Even after his death, in the time of mourning and fear, the presence of Navalny’s ideas live on as mass protests take place, the most influential news sources remind the world about his movement, and people coming to his grave shout “Love is stronger than fear” an “Putin is a killer.” 

“Previously nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Navalny stood up and spoke for those in opposition to the tyrannical rule of Putin knowing the consequences of that speech. Will there be another Russian to stand up and carry the torch that Navalny lit?” Christopher Le Page questioned. 

Alexei Navalny was more than a symbol, leader, and activist. He was also a son, a husband, and a father. His wife, Yulia Navalnaya promised to continue what he started. Recently Navalnaya spoke at the Munich Security Conference and was announced as one of the most influential people of 2024 by TIME Magazine. At the conference with great courage, Navalnaya denounced the lies and cruelty of the Russian government. In the face of terrible tragedy, Yulia Navalnaya emphasized that she is not giving up and that she will keep resisting the consolidation of  Putin’s regime and importantly, that the world should as well. 


If you want to learn more about the Russian opposition or the political situation in Russia and the war in Ukraine: 


Impactful Russian news sources affiliated with the opposition:

Resources for Ukraine: ukraine

Alexei Navalny Instagram (Led by Yulia Navalnaya now) – @navalny 

Instagram with news from Russia and ukraine – @helpdeskmedia_en

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About the Contributor
Lisa Volovik
Lisa Volovik, Illustrator
Hey, it's me Lisa. I am looking forward to a fun and creative year for Golden Arrow and making visuals for the newspaper. Things that inspire me are studio Ghibli movies, cool magazines like The New Yorker, cute illustrated children's books, my dog, and nature!