Putin Awards Deputy Director Of Russian Prison System A New Title – Days After Navalny Died In Prison

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin has awarded the deputy director of the Russian prison system a new “special rank” – days after his prominent opponent, Alexei Navalny, died in prison.

A decree posted on Monday, February 19, on Russia’s official Internet portal of legal information, said the Russian president would “assign special ranks to employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service”.

That included offering the title of “Colonel General of the Internal Service” to Valery Gennadievich Boyarinev.

According to the Russian state news agency, TASS, the same decree issued other prizes to another deputy director of the prison system, Olga Pomigalova, the title of Colonel General of the Internal Service.

The “highest special rank” of Colonel General of Justice was also awarded to the Deputy Head of the Investigative Committee, Sergei Goryainov.

The Russian president has not openly acknowledged the death of the leader of the opposition, who died on Friday in a Russian penal colony in the Arctic circle.

According to a statement from the Russian prison service, Navalny felt unwell during a walk and fell unconscious. Medics were reportedly called but were unable to revive him.

Russian authorities called it “sudden death syndrome” at the weekend, a general umbrella term for syndromes which cause sudden cardiac arrest and death.

Navalny was last seen in public just the day before his death when he appeared from prison via remote video link for a court appearance. He seemed in good spirits and joked with reporters.

Neither Navalny’s family nor his team have been permitted to see his body, which is being kept in an unknown location by Russian authorities for another two weeks.

The Kremlin has said an investigation into the cause of Navalny’s death is ongoing.

Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, said on Monday that she believed her husband was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok.

She claimed: “They are hiding his body – not showing or giving it to his mother – and they lie. Waiting for the traces of Putin’s latest Novichok to disappear.”

Leaders across the West have blamed Putin for Navalny’s death.

US president Joe Biden said on Monday: “The fact of the matter is: Putin is responsible, whether he ordered it or he is responsible for the circumstances he put that man in.”

Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief, said Navalny was “slowly murdered in a Russian jail by Putin’s regime”, while foreign secretary Lord Cameron said he was looking for the West to impose new sanctions on Russia in retaliation for Navalny’s death.

Navalny, who had an international reputation for standing up to Putin and being the most prominent political opposition, started serving a 19-year sentence in 2021.

The charges against him have widely been dismissed as politically motivated.