Home / Faith / News coverage of Alexei Navalny’s death overlooks dissident’s strong Christian faith

News coverage of Alexei Navalny’s death overlooks dissident’s strong Christian faith

Alexei Navalny, who died under suspicious circumstances in a Russian gulag last weekend, was a man of faith. “We don’t realize how strong we actually are,” he once said. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”

Before his body was released this week, his widow Yulia said Putin was engaging in satanism. “No true Christian could ever do what Putin is now doing with a body of Alexey,” she said in video posted to social media. “It’s satanism.”

His body was returned with signs of torture and possibly mistreatment after death. “You mock the remains of the dead. Nothing more demonic can be imagined. You are breaking every law, both human and God’s,” she stated.

Navalny was serving 19 years imprisonment on charges of extremism, which were widely considered to be politically motivated for his vocal criticism of Vladimir Putin’s regime. He was imprisoned in the IK-3 penal colony in the Arctic Circle, where temperatures drop as low as minus-20 degrees and where the prison discipline is known to be brutal. In 2022, he spent nearly 300 days in solitary confinement.

He chose to return to Russia from Germany after an attempt on his life with the deadly Novichok nerve agent, later used in the Salisbury poisonings on another Russian dissident. He returned to Russia in the full knowledge that he would be arrested upon landing, separated from his family and imprisoned with no guarantee for his safety.

In later life, Navalny stated publicly that he was a Christian. In his public statement during his 2021 trial, he is reported to have gone into some detail, explaining his Christian faith.

When he stood before a judge upon arrest when he returned to Russia in 2021, he was bold.

“Your Honour, do you want me to talk to you about God and salvation?” Navalny asked. “The fact is that I am a religious person… I was quite a militant (atheist) myself. But now I am a believer, and it helps me a lot in my work.”

“But now I am a believer, and it helps me a lot in my activities because everything becomes much, much easier, because there is a book in which, in general, it is clearly written what action to take in every situation,” he said. “It’s not always easy to follow, but I am actually trying.”

His letters from prison to the former Soviet prisoner of conscience Natan Sharansky included biblical, religious and spiritual allusions. “Where else to spend Holy Week if not in solitary confinement,” he wrote. He cited Ecclesiastes at one point and signed off another letter to the Jewish Sharansky, “L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim,” Next year in Jerusalem,” a traditional Passover greeting

Navalny cited the Sermon on the Mount — “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” — and said, “I’ve always thought that this commandment is more or less an instruction to activity.”

Yulia held Putin personally responsible for the Russia’s decision to hold Navalny’s body and said his actions cut against his carefully crafted image as a devout Orthodox Christian protecting both the faith and the state from the infiltration of Western values.

“Putin pretends to be a VERY religious man. He kisses icons and touches the relics of Saint Nicholas,” she said. “Faith is not about kissing an icon. Faith is about goodness, about mercy, about salvation.”

As for her late husband, Alexei Navalny was unapologetic about his faith.

Reflecting on his life choices he said, “I don’t have any regrets about being back, about what I’m doing… I did not betray the commandment.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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