The prominent Russian opposition politician who has died in mysterious circumstances in a Siberian penal colony, proudly described himself as a Christian.

Alexei Navalny, 47, was considered the greatest political threat to President Putin and ran for the presidency in 2018, despite a court ruling he wasn’t eligible. He was allowed to leave Russia for medical treatment in Germany after the Kremlin allegedly tried to poison him with a nerve agent in 2020.

He courageously returned to Russia only to be detained in 2021 and convicted of several trumped up charges so he’d face the rest of his life locked up away from the public eye. He continued to speak out against President Putin, government corruption and the invasion of Ukraine from prison where he repeatedly accused authorities of trying to poison him. He was sentenced to 19-years jail for “extremism” in 2023.

The Catholic News Agency reports that despite not making his Russian Orthodox faith a central component of his politics, Mr. Navalny spoke about how he was guided by the Bible which led to “fewer dilemmas” in his life. At his trial in 2021 his closing statement made references to God and salvation. He publicly declared he was a Christian after admitting he had previously been a staunch atheist.

He proclaimed that as a believer guided by the Bible it was easier for him than many others to engage in politics. The man regarded as Russia’s de facto Opposition leader quoted from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount at his 2021 trial: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. “I’ve always thought that this particular commandment is more or less an instruction to activity,” he explained at the time.

“And so, while certainly not really enjoying the place where I am, I have no regrets about coming back [to Russia], or about what I’m doing. It’s fine, because I did the right thing. On the contrary, I feel a real kind of satisfaction. Because at some difficult moment I did as required by the instructions, and did not betray the commandment.”

“Even though our country is built on injustice and we all constantly face injustice, we also see that millions of people, tens of millions of people, want righteousness. They want the righteousness and sooner or later they will have it.”