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Abramovich attempted to arrange a prisoner swap involving Navalny - CNN

Abramovich attempted to arrange a prisoner swap involving Navalny - CNN Photo: Roman Abramovich (Russian Media)

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich was involved in negotiations for a major prisoner exchange between Russia, the United States, and Europe. As part of this exchange, opposition figure Alexei Navalny could have been released, according to CNN.

According to sources cited by the publication, the negotiation process lasted for two years but began to accelerate in recent months. Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also involved in the negotiations.

Sources close to Abramovich, who is under Western sanctions and spends most of his time in the United Arab Emirates, reported that the oligarch met with a US government representative. Seven individuals were expected to be exchanged as part of the deal.

CNN notes that Abramovich traveled to Moscow to meet with Kremlin officials. The exact timing of these meetings could not be determined by the publication. However, Russian media reported that the oligarch met with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin a few hours before Navalny's death became known.

Navalny's assistant Maria Pevchikh stated that Abramovich was involved in developing the agreement and "delivered the proposal to swap Navalny" to the Kremlin. According to her, the oligarch was an informal participant in the negotiations, communicating with American and European officials.

Journalists also emphasized that at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado in the summer of 2022, Christo Grozev, who had worked with Navalny's team for several years, approached Hillary Clinton. Grozev stated that Clinton agreed to approach the Biden administration about the idea of exchanging Navalny for a Russian associated with the FSB convicted of murder in Berlin. The name of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was also discussed.

Maria Pevchikh partially confirmed this information. According to her, Putin was also offered to exchange the murderer and FSB employee Vadim Krasikov for two US citizens and Navalny.

Additionally, as the publication notes, the exchange could have included American journalist Evan Gershkovich and American Paul Whelan, while Russian spy Sergey Cherkasov could have returned to Russia.

Navalny's death

On February 16, the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug announced the death of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. It is reported that he died in a correctional colony where he was serving his sentence.

Navalny's body was withheld from his family for a long time, and on March 1, his funeral took place in Moscow. On that day, over 100 people were detained in Russia for participating in protests.

The US and the EU imposed sanctions against Russia over Navalny's death in prison. Earlier, it was reported by the media that Navalny was allegedly planned to be exchanged.