NewsRoman Abramovich's Last-Ditch Effort to Free Alexei Navalny Fails

Roman Abramovich's Last-Ditch Effort to Free Alexei Navalny Fails

Unofficial sources report that Abramowicz was to have intervened in the Nawalny case.
Unofficial sources report that Abramowicz was to have intervened in the Nawalny case.
Images source: © o2

12:55 PM EDT, March 10, 2024

The initiative to free Alexei Navalny from the penal colony gained momentum following Roman Abramovich's recent visits to Moscow.

According to independent Russian media, Roman Abramovich had a meeting with Vladimir Putin on Friday, merely hours before the prison authorities announced Navalny's demise on February 16, in a Siberian penal colony.

Following Navalny's death, his advisor, Maria Pevchikh, stated that Abramovich played a key role in orchestrating an agreement and "proposed a negotiation to the Kremlin for Navalny's exchange." She further mentioned his role as an "informal mediator in discussions with American and European officials".

Sources close to Abramovich have indicated that he was "shocked," upon learning about Navalny's death, especially since negotiations were still ongoing in Moscow.

When questioned about whether Roman Abramovich was negotiating a prisoner swap with Vladimir Putin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested, "You should inquire with Abramovich's team. This is not a question for us."

A Western diplomat expressed to CNN his belief in the possibility of a prisoner exchange involving Navalny as being quite high, around 7 or even 8 out of 10. Others believe the discussions were still in preliminary stages with no evident agreement, suspecting Vladimir Putin of misleading everyone and having the prisoner executed.

Hillary Clinton's Involvement

In the summer of 2022, investigative journalist Christo Grozev had a conversation with Hillary Clinton at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado after years of collaboration with Alexei Navalny's team.

Clinton, familiar with Grozev's work, acknowledged his efforts in uncovering the FSB team behind Navalny's poisoning and mentioned watching a documentary about Navalny that Grozev contributed to.

Grozev relayed to CNN that Clinton "initially passed on a message" to U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, confirmed by a source. However, the National Security Council has not commented on the matter.

Sullivan disclosed that early in February, a proposal was made to Putin to exchange Vadim Krasikov—an FSB officer imprisoned in Berlin for murder—for two American citizens alongside Navalny.

During a discussion with Tucker Carlson in Moscow, Putin hinted at the likelihood of the swap involving Evan Gershkovich, a "Wall Street Journal" reporter imprisoned in Moscow on espionage charges, as part of the deal. Gershkovich has since become a significant leverage for Putin.

The precise terms of the proposed deal remain uncertain, but a source close to Navalny's team suggested that it could involve the release of Gershkovich, another detained American, Paul Whelan, and Navalny himself.

The narrative around the negotiations kept evolving, leaving everyone questioning who would have the courage to discuss the proposal with Putin. Abramovich proceeded to negotiate, yet he either acted too slowly to save Navalny or was simply outmaneuvered by Putin.

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