THE WORLD

Doubts arise about the "murder" of Navalny

Russian dissident Alexei Navalny may have been killed by a heart attack, a technique once taught by operatives of the Russian secret service - the KGB. Before that, Navalny is said to have been exposed to cold weather for several hours.

Vladimir Osechkin, the founder of the human rights group "Gulagu", told The Times that the bruises found on Navalny's body resemble the "one punch" technique used for murder. Osechkin is referring to a source who works in the Arctic prison where Navalny died on Friday.

"Before his death, Navalny was forced to spend more than two and a half hours outside, in isolation, where temperatures were as low as -27°C," said Osechkin.

Prisoners in the Arctic are usually out for no more than an hour. Many of them spend less time outside when there are extreme weather conditions.

"I think that they first destroyed his body by keeping him in the cold for a long time and slowing his blood circulation to a minimum. And then it became very easy to kill him in seconds, since the operatives are experienced in these things. This is the old method of KGB special units. They trained operatives to kill a man with a single punch to the heart, in the center of the body. It was a brand of the KGB," said Osechkin.

Osechkin said former prisoners in the Arctic region had previously reported that some prisoners had been killed by guards in this manner.

The information that Russian authorities have provided so far about Navalny's death has been scant and contradictory. Russia still holds his body.

The administration of the Yamalo-Nenetsky district prison, where Navalny served his sentence, announced on Friday that the Russian opposition leader had died.

The Federal Prison Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region said Navalny "felt bad" after Friday's walk and "almost immediately lost consciousness." In the press release, they said that the 47-year-old could not be saved even after the intervention of doctors.

A little later, the state-controlled Telegram channel claimed that the cause of death was a blood clot.

The next day, Navalny's mother and his lawyer were handed a death certificate stating that he died of "sudden death syndrome".