Fact Check

Did Alexei Navalny Die from COVID-19 Vaccine?

Russian authorities said Navalny died as a result of "sudden death syndrome."

Published Feb. 21, 2024

 (Getty Images)
Image Via Getty Images
Claim:
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died?suddenly on Feb. 16, 2024, in an Arctic penal colony, where he was serving a 19-year prison sentence. After Navalny's death, some social media posts claimed?he had died from a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Alexei Navalny died from the COVID vaccine and the fact that nobody wants to admit it is shameful," said one X post?that had more than 1 million views. "Why would you blame Putin for something Navalny did to himself by taking an experimental MRNA vaccine?" it continued. Another post claimed that "Navalny had 5 vaccines from Pfizer and died from a blood clot."

(X user @BruinGOP)

The theory that Alexei Navalny's death was caused by a COVID-19 vaccine is groundless and unsupported by factual evidence. Therefore, we have rated this claim as "Unfounded."

First and foremost, as of Feb. 21, 2024, the exact cause of Alexei Navalny's death remained unknown, with autopsy results pending. Without concrete evidence or the completion of an independent investigation, attributing his death to any specific cause, including a COVID-19 vaccine, is purely speculative.

Neither the statement released on the day of Navalny's death nor any other statement issued by Russian officials mentioned his death was related to a vaccine:

On Feb. 16, 2024, in penal colony number 3, convict Alexei Navalny felt unwell after a walk, almost immediately losing consciousness.

The medical staff of the institution arrived immediately, and an ambulance team was called.

All necessary resuscitation measures were carried out, which did not yield positive results. Doctors of the ambulance stated the death of the convict.

The causes of death are being established.

Navalny had been imprisoned in Russia since January 2021 and could not have received an mRNA vaccine — the type purported to have caused his death in the viral posts — as the Russian Ministry of Health did not approve that kind of inoculation. There is no evidence to confirm whether Navalny was vaccinated against COVID-19 at all.?

Additionally, false rumors about sudden?deaths?due to COVID-19 vaccinations have proliferated since the vaccines became available, without any basis in fact.

Finally, although Russian prison authorities informed?Navalny's mother that he suffered "sudden death syndrome," that does not indicate his death was vaccine-related, as social media users claimed. As Reuters reported, sudden death syndrome is "a vague term for different cardiac syndromes that cause sudden cardiac arrest and death."

BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh underscored that the rumor claiming Navalny was killed by the vaccine was just one of many "pro-Kremlin conspiracy theories about Alexei Navalny's death."

U.S. officials have more directly called?Russian President Vladimir Putin culpable for Navalny's death and promised sanctions, with?National Security Council spokesman John Kirby saying, "Regardless of the scientific answer, Putin's responsible for it."?Navalny's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh went a step further,?posting?on X on Feb. 17 that?"Alexey Navalny was murdered."

We will update this article when new information comes to light about Navalny's cause of death.

Snopes has also?investigated whether Navalny's death notice was posted just two minutes after his official time of death and whether a widely shared image was the last photo of him alive.

Sources

Dapcevich, Madison. "Did 45K People Die Within 3 Days of Getting COVID Vaccine?"?Snopes, 22 July 2021, //fact-check/45000-people-die-covid-19-vaccine/.

"EU Summons Russian Envoy, Demands Independent Investigation into Navalny's Death." Reuters, 20 Feb. 2024. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/eu-summons-russian-envoy-demands-independent-investigation-into-navalnys-death-2024-02-20/.

Faulconbridge, Guy, et al. "Putin Foe Alexei Navalny Dies in Jail, West Holds Russia Responsible." Reuters, 16 Feb. 2024. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/jailed-russian-opposition-leader-navalny-dead-prison-service-2024-02-16/.

Kasprak, Alex. "Did CDC Confirm That Thousands 'Died Suddenly' as a Result of COVID Vaccines?"?Snopes, 20 Dec. 2022, //fact-check/cdc-died-suddenly-covid-vaccines/.

Kurmanaev, Anatoly. "Here's What We Know About the Cause of Navalny's Reported Death." The New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/16/world/europe/navalny-cause-of-death.html.

"Navalny's Death: The Full Russian Prison Service Statement." Reuters, 16 Feb. 2024. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russian-prison-service-statement-about-navalnys-death-2024-02-16/.

Palma, Bethania. "No, There Weren't More COVID-19 Vaccine Deaths Than COVID-19 Deaths."?Snopes, 22 July 2021, //fact-check/covid-vax-deaths-vs-covid-deaths/.

Roth, Andrew, and Andrew Roth Moscow correspondent. "Russian Court Sentences Alexei Navalny to Further 19 Years in Prison." The Guardian, 4 Aug. 2023. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/04/russian-court-extends-alexei-navalny-sentence-in-penal-colony.

"White House Promises 'Major Sanctions' on Russia in Response to Alexei Navalny's Death."?AP News, 20 Feb. 2024, https://apnews.com/article/sanctions-navalny-putin-biden-ukraine-dc1a51954673398a0410f8a6320f39e8.

Коронавирус – Симптомы, Признаки, Общая Информация, Ответы На Вопросы — Минздрав России. https://covid19.rosminzdrav.ru/. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.