Alexei Navalny’s Death and the Rights of Journalists

Alexei Navalny for

Alexei Navalny died February 16. Frequently compared to Nelson Mandela, He led the Russian opposition against Putin and was an avid critic of Russia and its corruption. He challenged Putin by running for president in both 2016 and 2018. He ran marches and protests and was arrested several times for his actions. He even survived a poisoning attempt in 2020.

He died in prison where he was serving a 19-year sentence for extremism which means very dangerous acts, such as attempts to overthrow the constitutional government or terrorist activities. Though the prison is saying he collapsed on a walk, a majority of people are recognizing that Putin played a role in his death.

Navalny’s death not only highlights the horrors of Putin’s regime but also the safety of journalists doing international and political work. The intentional killing of a journalist for their work is considered a war crime, but despite this, over 38 journalists have been killed in Russia for their professions. 

Bisan Owda is a Palestinian journalist who is using social media to share updates on the war

“Over the past 10 years, 278 journalists around the world have been killed for carrying out their professional duties. In 80 percent of cases, no one was prosecuted for these crimes,” according to the Women International Media Fund.

The importance of journalists is very clear; they help keep the government accountable for their actions. However, this is difficult when reporters are doing their work in countries that do not want their actions to be known to the public. These are the countries where journalists are arguably the most important. 

Currently, the war between Israel and Gaza has killed the most journalists, at 88, with an alarming majority being Palestinian journalists. This is not stopping many reporters from covering whatever they can from the ground, a level of bravery that can not go unnoticed. 

Alexei Navalny’s death highlights the dangers of speaking out today. Journalists are necessary to keep the public aware of the government’s actions. If journalists’ rights are not taken seriously, we run the risk of losing our access to Freedom of Speech as well as giving the government the authority to do whatever it wants.

“The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”

—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in New York Times Co. v. United States (1971)

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