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Russia advances in Ukraine as Navalny's family demands answers: Live updates

12:30 PM ET, February 19, 2024

Some of Navalny's correspondence while he was held in captivity has been published

By CNN's Anna Chernova and Zahid Mahmood

Letters and correspondence obtained by Free Press (FP), a US-based media company, and independent media organization Holod. Media shows that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny – who has died aged 47 – has been communicating with famous refusenik Natan Sharansky and Holod.Media readers at the organisation's request.

The term “refuseees” refers to those who were refused exit visas in the Soviet Union.

Correspondence between Navalny and Sharansky began on April 3, 2023, and continued until April 17, 2023, according to the messages published by Foreign Policy magazine. FP published two letters written by Navalny to Sharansky and one letter written by Sharansky in response.

Navalny's team told CNN it was “safe to assume” the letters were written by Navalny.

Letters published by Foreign Policy show the sense of humor shared between the two, with Sharansky calling the punishment cell where he was held his “alma mater” and Navalny joking that there was no better place to spend Holy Week (Easter week) than as a punishment cell. Cell, according to FP.

Navalny was the first to contact Sharansky on April 3 last year from the IK-6 penal colony, saying he was expecting to be transferred to the same colony where Sharansky once served his sentence, adding that “there will probably be a plaque saying that ‘Natan Sharansky He was detained here,” according to letters published by Foreign Policy.

Foreign Policy newspaper says that Navalny obtained a Russian copy of Sharansky's memoirs, “Do Not Be Afraid of Evil,” from his lawyer before contacting him. In a second message, Sharansky said he received a “good shock” after receiving his letter and responded “not only as a ‘reader-author’ but also as a ‘fan’.”

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