(NEW YORK)— Upon reports of the death of 47-year-old Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died a political prisoner in a Russian penal colony north of the Arctic circle, PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said:

“PEN America mourns the cruel death of Alexei Navalny who embodied the spirit of a free Russia with a spine of steel, unremitting determination and a spirit of derring do.  The foremost critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his authoritarian rule, Navalny’s fearlessness has inspired writers and free thinkers inside Russia and around the world, and set the standard for what it means to be a media savvy dissident in the digital age.  His activism, self sacrifice and stalwart refusal to be silenced will etch his name in history as an iconic voice of defiance and inspiration for generations to come.  We extend condolences to the Navalny family, his colleagues and all who believed in his vision for a democratic and rights-respecting Russia on this shattering loss. We call for the immediate release of all political prisoners held by Russia.”

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], (201) 247-5057