The announcement by Russia’s prison agency that Alexei Navalny had died in the frigid penal colony where he was serving a 19-year sentence came as a shock, but one that the Moscow team had prepared for in all formats. The first version of the obituary of Putin’s most prominent opponent moved five minutes after the alert. Video journalist Kirill Zarubin offered the only live images from the Navalny memorial in Moscow shortly after the death was announced. AP’s photo team had 25 images ready to go.

Reacting quickly, cameraman Sergey Karelin flew to a remote area in Yamal where Navalny died in the Polar Wolf prison. He trailed after Navalny’s mother for several days showing her desperate search for information on her son — and filmed lives showing her in her car going from one place to the other in search of her son’s body. Karelin also provided an exclusive from Salekhard of Navalny’s mother laying flowers at a memorial there — all strong coverage coordinated by senior producer Tanya Titova and news director Harriet Morris. Hundreds of video clients used the footage thousands of times in the days that followed. 

Photographers Zemlianichenko and Lovetsky worked late into the night on Friday and all weekend producing images from memorials in Moscow and St. Petersburg, including police detaining protesters. Writers Volodya Isachenkov, Emma Burrows, Katie Davies and Dasha Litvinova provided a steady stream of insightful pieces and analysis — with Litvinova and Burrows also providing digital explainers.

For lightning-fast and smart reaction to the death of Russia’s best-known dissident that garnered widely used and exclusive content for AP clients, Zarubin, Karelin, Titova, Burrows, Litvinova, Isachenkov, Davies, Zemlianichenko, Lovetsky and Morris are this week’s Best of the Week — Second Winner.

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