In the Oscar-winning film ”Navalny”, the director asks activist Alexei Navalny, “Alexei, if you are arrested and thrown in prison, or the unthinkable happens and you are killed, what message do you leave behind for the Russian people?”

Alexei answers in Russian, “We don’t realize how strong we actually are.  The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”  He stops and stares intently into the camera, “So don’t be inactive.”

On Saturday. February 17, Navalny’s family confirmed that the inevitable had happened.  The 47-year-old had died the day before.  The place of death . . . the infamous “Polar Wolf” penal colony founded in 1961 as part of Josef Stalin’s Gulag network.   Located north of the Arctic Circle, Polar Wolf is known as one of Russia’s northernmost and harshest prisons.  With temperatures plummeting to -20O C inmates describe being punished by being made to stand outside without coats.  Those who fail to stand still are doused with cold water. The cause of Navalny’s death is unknown.

Navalny’s day-to-day life was a lonely one.  All he could see outside his window was a fence and a bleak midground bathed in the perpetual twilight of an Arctic winter.  He was allowed one stroll a day in his “walking yard, a concrete enclosure, topped with metal bars, 11 steps long and 3 steps wide”. Navalny was repeatedly being punished for various offenses, including his attitude and acerbic sense of humor.  He posted the falling quip, “It has not been colder than -32o C yet.  Nothing quite invigorates you like a walk in Yamal at 6:30 in the morning.”

Approximately ten days after his death, the name of this incredible man is already disappearing from the headlines.  Soon he will be yesterday’s news but I can’t help thinking about what he said about evil triumphs when good people do nothing.  And above all his admonishment to be active, to be relevant, to do something.  Though few of us can be Alexei Navalny all of us can do something.