March 28, 2023


Alexey Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader, on Tuesday accused Russian soldiers of killing a man in the Ukrainian town of Bucha because he shared the Navalny surname.

In a thread posted on his Twitter feed, Navalny said that the dead man’s body was found on the ground with a passport lying next to it, identifying him as Ilya Ivanovich Navalny, born on Aug. 2, 1961 in Zalissia — the same village where Alexey Navalny’s father was born near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

“Everything indicates that they killed him because of his last name,” Navalny’s post said. “That’s why his passport was defiantly thrown nearby. A completely innocent person was killed by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s executioners (what else can I call them? definitely not “Russian soldiers”) because he is my namesake. Apparently, they hoped he was a relative of mine.”

Navalny has been jailed since returning to Russia last year from Germany where he had recovered from an assassination attempt in which he was poisoned with a chemical weapon. He was initially accused of parole violations in a case originally based on charges widely viewed as trumped-up by the Kremlin. Last month, he was sentenced to an additional nine years on fraud charges that were also politically motivated.

Colleagues who continue to run Navalny’s anti-corruption movement from outside of Russia help to maintain his Twitter feed, which has 2.9 million followers. Lawyers and other associates have been able to visit him at the maximum security penal colony where he is jailed and bring out written messages.

It was not possible to immediately corroborate Navalny’s accusation that Ilya Navalny was killed because of his surname. But local officials and independent Ukrainian and international journalists have documented extensive atrocities in Bucha, including the torture and murder of civilians, committed by Russian forces that occupied the town near Kyiv for roughly a month before they were driven out by the Ukrainian military. Navalny said he did not know if he was related to the man, adding that there were many people with the same surname from Zalissia.

Navalny, in the Twitter thread, called for resistance to Russia’s war in Ukraine and to Putin. “It is now everyone’s duty to make at least some, even the smallest contribution to stop this war and remove Putin from power,” he wrote. “Protest wherever and however you can. Agitate however you can and whomever you can. Inaction is the worst possible thing. And now its consequence is death.”


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