Jailed Russian opposition leader Navalny dies, Russian media says; Ukraine withdraws some troops from Avdiivka

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died on Friday, Russian state media reported, citing the prison service of the Yamalo-Nenets region where he had been serving his sentence.

No details are yet available as to the cause of death, and Navalny’s press secretary said in a post on X that she had yet to receive any confirmation of his demise. CNBC could not independently verify the report.


Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Germany and France on Friday in a bid to secure crucial military assistance and bilateral security commitments to help repel the Russian invasion.

Berlin and Paris could become the second and third Ukrainian allies to sign bilateral security pledges with Kyiv, after the U.K.’s January deal. The commitments aim to shore up military support until Ukraine can achieve its long-coveted NATO membership.

The trip, Zelenskyy’s first foreign excursion since replacing his popular army chief, comes as Ukrainian troops are withdrawing from some areas of the eastern town of Avdiivka to seek better positions after months of intense combat.

Military spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy said in televised remarks that one of Ukraine’s most renowned fighting units, the Third Assault Brigade, had been scrambled to Avdiivka as reinforcement, according to Reuters.

“The situation on the battlefield is heavy and basically we’re still at the same hard phase of war as it was for the last year. The frontline has not been moving significantly at any side, meaning that to hold the front is the fight itself,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna told CNBC at the Munich Security Conference on Friday.

The Russian prosecutor’s office has warned Russians against participating in a mass protest in the centre of Moscow after the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“Please note that this mass event has not been coordinated with the executive authorities of the city in accordance with the procedure established by law,” the prosecutors said.

According to videos and photos on social networks, people in other Russian cities were paying their respects to Navalny after news of his death spread.

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