Alexei Navalny’s team confirmed the Russian opposition figure’s death Saturday, a day after Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service announced that he had fallen unconscious and died following a walk in the Arctic prison where he was being held.

“Alexey Navalny was murdered. His death occurred on February 16 at 2:17 p.m. local time, according to the official message to Alexey’s mother,” his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said on X, Saturday.

“An employee of the colony said that the body of Navalny is now in Salekhard. It was picked up by investigators from the IC. Now they are conducting ‘investigations’ with him,” she added.

“We demand that Alexey Navalny’s body be handed over to his family immediately,” she said.

Yarmysh did not offer evidence to support her assertion that Navalny was murdered.

Navalny’s family awaited independent confirmation on the news of his death following the announcement by Russian authorities yesterday, with Navalny’s wife, Yuliya Navalnaya, saying “We cannot believe Putin and his government. They are lying constantly,” during a speech at the Munich Security Conference.

“But if it is the truth, I would like Putin and all his staff, everybody around him — his government, his friends — I want them to know that they will be punished for what they have done with our country, with my family and with my husband,” she said. “They will be brought to justice, and this day will come soon.”

Navalny, 47, died while serving a prison sentence of over three decades on politically motivated charges of “extremism” and establishing an illegal NGO. Fears for his life were last stoked in December, when he went missing in Russia’s penal system in December, eventually turning up at a high-security correctional colony in a remote town above the Arctic Circle.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had launched a procedural investigation into the death.

Navalny, an outspoken critic of Putin, has been the largest thorn in the Kremlin’s side years.

In 2020, he was poisoned with a military nerve agent — an attempt on his life that he blamed directly on Putin — and has been given multiple successive prison sentences with the aim that he would not pose a political threat to Putin for the remainder of the Russian president’s life.

Responding to Navalny’s death on Friday, President Joe Biden said “there is no doubt” that his death “was the consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did,” following it with a call to increase funding from Congress to help Ukraine fight Russia’s invasion.

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