Putin must be held accountable - Yulia Navalnaya

Putin must be held accountable - Yulia Navalnaya By A Robin - February 18, 2024
Yulia Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya

Alexei Navalny's wife, Yulia, has said that if the news of her husband's death is true, Russian President Vladimir Putin must be brought to justice.

She said Mr Putin and his allies "should be held personally responsible for all the atrocities they have committed in Russia".

Yulia Navalnaya also called on the international community to "unite and defeat this evil".

Alexei Navalny was serving a lengthy prison term when he was announced dead.

The Russian prison authorities said on Friday that the Kremlin critic had become unwell following a walk and had lost consciousness at the Siberian "Polar Wolf" penal colony.

In an unscheduled address at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Yulia Navalnaya said she didn't know "whether to believe or not this terrible news that we're only receiving from government sources".

"You all know that we cannot trust the Putin government. They lie constantly," she told an audience of dignitaries.

In a defiant and emotional speech, she said that if it was true, she wanted "Putin and everyone around him, his friends and the government, to know that they will be held accountable for what they did to our country, to my family and my husband," adding: "And that day will come soon."

She was given a standing ovation.

Ms Navalnaya choked back tears as she went on making a dramatic appeal to the security conference - a landmark annual event which draws leaders from around the globe - that they must "fight this horrific regime in Russia today".

"He would be on this stage," she said of her husband.

The 47-year-old wife of the Russian opposition leader said she was torn about whether to remain in Munich or to fly to her children immediately.

Yulia and Alexei Navalny, a budding lawyer, met in Turkey while on holiday in 1998 and married two years later. Their two children, Daria and Zakhar, were born in 2001 and 2008.

Yulia Navalnaya attracted international attention in the summer of 2020, when Navalny was rushed to hospital in the Russian city of Omsk in southwestern Siberia, on suspicion of poisoning. She demanded her husband be sent to Germany for treatment.

She followed him to Berlin where German doctors confirmed he had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, and found herself becoming a de-facto spokeswoman for her husband.

Novaya Gazeta, a formerly Russian newspaper which is now published in the Latvian capital, Riga, dubbed Ms Navalnaya the paper's 2020 "Hero of the Year", paying tribute to her resilience in standing by Navalny as he fought to expose Kremlin corruption.

Ms Navalnaya, an economist by training, was soon thrust into the media's spotlight as the "first lady of the Russian opposition".

Coming back from a near-death experience when he was taken out of his coma a few months later, Navalny said of his wife: "Yulia, you saved me."

She returned to Russia with her husband in January, 2021, and when Navalny was detained, she maintained his arrest was proof the authorities were trying to silence him out of fear.

But the most important thing about her husband, she said, was that he was not afraid, adding, "And I'm not afraid either." She urged his supporters never to give up, even as Navalny went to prison.

In his final Instagram post on Valentine's Day, her husband writes: "Baby, everything is like a song with you: between us there are cities, the take-off lights of airfields, blue snowstorms and thousands of kilometres."

Navalny adds that despite the huge distance between them: "I feel that you are near every second and I love you more and more."


By A Robin - February 18, 2024

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