- Taking the stage to accept the statue with the film’s director, Yulia Navalnaya used her time to decry Moscow for a 2020 assassination attempt on her husband
- Self-titled NAVALNY, the documentary details Putin’s alleged bombing of Navalny and his attempt to track down his assailants after reclaiming Germany.
- Navalny accused Putin of being responsible for his poisoning and was quickly arrested for a parole violation that many said was wrong. He remains imprisoned
The wife of a Russian opposition leader jailed for speaking out against Vladimir Putin delivered a moving message on the Oscars stage on Sunday after a documentary about her husband’s life won an Oscar.
Going on stage to accept the statue with the film’s director, Yulia Navalnaya – the wife of currently incarcerated Alexey Navalny – decried Moscow not only for its military invasion of Ukraine, but for its alleged attempt to assassinate Navalny in 2020, around which the film is centered.
Self-titled NAVALNY, the documentary details Putin’s alleged attack on Navalny and the United Russia opponent’s subsequent attempt to track down his attackers while recovering from poisoning in a hospital in Germany.
After being released, Navalny accused Putin of being responsible for his poisoning, an investigation later implicating Federal Security Service agents as responsible for the incident.
Broadcasting these allegations to his more than 6 million followers, Navalny returned to Russia in early 2021, to be immediately imprisoned by the Kremlin.
Officials would later say that the 46 years The political theorist’s incarceration stems from his stay in hospital after he violated his parole for an embezzlement arrest in 2014.
At the time, many criticized the arrest as wrongful and the culmination of a politically motivated campaign to prevent him from running against Putin in future elections.
Now, more than two years after his arrest, the leader of the opposition is still imprisoned – a fact that the minds behind NAVALNY and Navalny’s wife tried not to get lost amid the bells and whistles of the 95th Academy Awards.
Taking the stage moments after NAVALNY won the best documentary award, Navalnaya said she “dreamed of the day” when Russia – and her husband – “would be free”.
“My husband is in jail just for telling the truth,” Navalnaya said Sunday, joining director Daniel Roher and several other film staff in accepting the award.
The 46-year-old self-styled Russian opposition first lady then used the glitzy venue as a platform to shine a light on her husband’s current situation.
“My husband is in jail just for standing up for democracy,” she said before addressing her husband directly.
“Alexei, I dream of the day when you will be free and when our country will be free. Stay strong, my love. THANKS.’
Navalnaya’s brief remarks were accompanied by a similar message from the film’s director, whose work details the overwhelming evidence that suggests Navalny’s 2020 assassination attempt stemmed from his opposition to the Kremlin.
Hailing Navalny as both a hero and ‘the leader of the Russian opposition’, Roher – a documentary filmmaker hailing from Canada – highlighted the subject of his film’s apparent absence when accepting the statue.
“There is one person who couldn’t be with us here tonight,” Roher said as he accepted the Oscar at the ceremony in Los Angeles.
“Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny remains in solitary confinement for what he calls – I want to make sure we understand his words exactly – ‘Vladimir Putin’s unjust war of aggression in Ukraine'” , said Roher, quoting the now famous Russian character, to whom he then credits the film’s critical acclaim.
“I would like to dedicate this award to Navalny, to all the political prisoners in the world. Alexey, the world has not forgotten your vital message for all of us,’ the 30-year-old director said.
“We cannot, we must not be afraid to oppose dictators and authoritarianism wherever it turns its head.
Coming as Roher’s fourth feature, NAVALNY tells the 2020 attack on Navalny carried out with the deadly nerve agent from the same family as a used to poison former Putin agent turned SAS spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in 2018.
After Navalny comes forward to allege Putin’s office played a role in the alleged murder plot, international officials also cite ‘unequivocal evidence’ from toxicology tests that Navalny was poisoned, leaving him in a coma .
Those experts have since called on the Russian government to explain the event and Navalny’s imprisonment months later, after the head of Russia’s Anti-Corruption Foundation finally regained consciousness.
The film uses a combination of physical evidence and expert testimony to link the failed assassination to the Kremlin, which argued Navalny’s sentence was just.