Putin Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny Publicly Professed Christan Faith Prior to Death

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Alexei Navalny, one of Russia’s most prominent opposition leaders to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, reportedly leaned on his Christian faith before his death last week.

As Christian Headlines previously reported, Navalny died in a Russian prison near the Arctic Circle last Friday after he was first incarcerated in 2021.

Prior to his imprisonment, Navalny spent years attempting to expose corruption in Russian politics, including questioning the effectiveness of the 2012 election and responding to the streets in protest. Ultimately, his campaign was deemed illegal, and he was charged as an extremist.

Navalny was admired for his humor and sarcasm throughout his imprisonment as well as his courage. At one point, he returned to Russia from Germany after a close attempt on his life with the lethal Novichok nerve agent, later used in the Salisbury poisonings on another Russian dissident.

Despite being aware that he would be arrested in Russia, Navalny returned anyway and ended up imprisoned and separated from his family.

In a piece written by Tim Farron, a Member of Parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005 and who previously served as the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party from 2015 to 2017, he shared that a friend recently noted that Navalny had stated publicly that he was a Christian.

During his 2021 trial, Navalny reportedly explained his Christian faith in further detail, including that he was previously “quite a militant atheist.”

“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. It’s not always easy to follow…but I am actually trying…as I said, it’s easier for me probably than for many others to engage in politics,” he said at the time.

He also referenced 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.”

“I wouldn’t want to put words in his mouth. I, of course, did not know Alexei Navalny, and these are only his reported words from a friendly publication. But in the clarity of the Bible’s instruction, he appeared to have found both a spur to action and a “real kind of satisfaction” in doing what was required of him,” Farron wrote.

Farron also asked, “What can Western Christians do in light of Navalny’s example?”

“In our relative comfort, can we understand the peace he had in following his conviction and boldly stating where those convictions came from, even though it both put him at odds with the authorities who opposed him and even brought criticism and incredulity from his own allies? Imagine what it must have taken to board that flight back to Russia, trading in his freedom and family life for an uncertain future in a penal colony.”

Navalny’s life also showed “a lesson in persistence and perspective,” Farron said.

“He did not see the fall of Putin’s regime in his lifetime, yet he was still prepared to fight with whatever he had, even if it was with letters to his lawyers from a freezing prison cell. Many of us in politics may not live to see the grave injustices in our context ended for good. Are we still prepared to act?” he asked.

Citing Psalm 2, Navalny concluded by asking Christians, “Can we rest in the sure knowledge of God’s sovereignty even amidst awful circumstances while still resolving to hunger and thirst for righteousness wherever God has placed us and with whatever God has put in our hands?”

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Johannes Simon / Stringer

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

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