Alexei Navalny’s wife, son and daughter collect Oscar for documentary about the Russian opposition leader – as his reaction to the award ceremony success is revealed by lawyer
- ‘Navalny’ film took home Academy Award for best documentary on Sunday night
- Film centres on life and assassination attempt of Putin foe Alexey Navalny
The family of a Russian opposition leader jailed for speaking out against Vladimir Putin took to the Oscars stage in Hollywood last night as a documentary about their husband and father brought home an Academy Award.
Yulia Navalnaya – the wife of incarcerated dissident Alexey Navalny – along with their daughter Daria Navalnaya, 22, and son Zahar Navalny, 14, joined the crew behind the film ‘Navalny’ as it won the Oscar for best documentary.
Onstage, Yulia decried Moscow for its military invasion of Ukraine and its alleged assassination attempt of Navalny in 2020, around which the film is centred.
Dasha, meanwhile, said it was difficult to be attending the Oscars to bring attention to the documentary about her father’s imprisonment, but he wanted her there.
The family’s glamorous appearance was a far cry from Alexey Navalny’s current situation. The opposition leader was on a remote link from jail to a court hearing when he found out that the documentary about him had won an Oscar.
The Russian opposition leader’s wife Yulia (centre), 46, attended the Oscar’s ceremony with their daughter Daria (right), 22, and son Zahar (left), 14
Navalny’s family (Yulia [2-L], Daria [R] and Zahar [L]) join the crew of the documentary film Navalny at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party – held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, USA, on March 12
The judge had refused to allow his lawyer to speak to his client, so attorney Alexander Fedulov wrote ‘Oscar’ on a piece of paper. Navalny could not see it and asked the lawyer to speak. ‘I can’t see it, tell me,’ he said.
Fedulov defied the judge and said: ‘Oscar! You won an Oscar yesterday.’
A smiling but gaunt-looking Navalny said: ‘Ahh. Fine. Well, it’s not really me, though. Thank you.’
The film is on the bid by the Russian authorities to poison Navalny on a flight in Russia in 2020. He was evacuated to Germany, but since his 2021 return to Russia, his team have accused the authorities of seeking to kill him by harsh treatment in jail.
Taking the stage moments after the film picked up the award, Yulia Navalnaya said she’s ‘dreaming of the day’ that both Russia – and her husband – ‘will be free.’
‘My husband is in prison just for telling the truth,’ she said Sunday, dressed in red.
The 46-year-old so-called First Lady’ of the Russian opposition proceeded to use the glitzy venue as a platform to shine a light on her husband’s current situation.
‘My husband is in prison just for defending democracy,’ she said, before addressing her husband directly. ‘Alexey, I am dreaming the day when you will be free and our country will be free. Stay strong, my love. Thank you.’
Daria Navalnaya, wearing a bright green gown, later told reporters on the red carpet: ‘I’m fighting for freedom of speech and trying to get Alexei out, my dad, and fighting for democracy in Russia.’
Canadian director Daniel Roher told reporters: ‘We’re having a good time but we’re not losing sight of the fact that we made a film about the world’s foremost political prisoner and we have a very strong message to say.
‘That’s freedom to Alexei Navalny and being here on this carpet, speaking to folks like you is a perfect platform we need to talk about our movie and to talk about Alexei,’ he added.
The family were also joined on stage by Maria Pevchikh, a Russian investigative journalist who was on the plane when Navalny was poisoned.
Upon Navalny falling ill, she went back to their hotel to collect plastic water bottles which then allowed German experts to establish the Russian dissident had been poisoned with Novichok.
Since 2011, she worked with Navalny on several investigations published on his blog.
Roher’s film looks at the political rise of Navalny, the most prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, his poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok during a trip to Siberia in 2020 and the subsequent probe.
Canadian director Daniel Roher speaks on stage after ‘Navalny’ took home the Oscar for best documentary. He was joined by the crew and by Navalny’s family on stage
Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s daughter Daria Navalnaya arrives on the champagne-coloured red carpet during the Oscars arrivals at the 95th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, March 12
Pictured: The moment Alexei Navalny hears the documentary about him won an Oscar. He appeared at a court hearing via video link, at which point he was told the news
Eponymously titled NAVALNY, the documentary details Putin’s alleged attempt on Alexei Navalny’s life in 2020, and the United Russia opponent’s subsequent attempt to track down his assailants as he recovered from being poisoned at a hospital Germany
‘There’s one person who couldn’t be with us here tonight – Alexei Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition, who remains in solitary confinement for what he calls – I want to make sure we get his words exactly right – Vladimir Putin’s unjust war of aggression in Ukraine,’ Roher told the audience as he accepted the golden statuette.
The 46-year-old Navalny, who has been held for the past two years at a maximum-security prison outside Moscow after an embezzlement conviction, has accused Putin of being behind the poisoning attack.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters he had not seen the film but speculated there could be a ‘certain element of politicization of the subject’.
‘Hollywood also sometimes politicizes its work. Such things happen,’ Peskov said, referring to the award decision to hand the award to the film.
He said that Hollywood was no stranger to politics, ‘but I can’t talk about any cinematic merits of this film, because I’m not familiar with it.’
In the film, Navalny pinned responsibility for the poisoning episode on a team of agents from the FSB state security service. Russia denies attempting to kill him.
The film, which premiered at the Sundance film festival in January 2022, won a BAFTA last month. It bested ‘All That Breathes,’ ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,’ ‘Fire of Love’ and ‘A House Made of Splinters.’
Meanwhile, major Russian news outlets appeared to have been gagged by Vladimir Putin from revealing the Oscar win for the documentary about his leading foe.
Major state channels neglected to mention the victory for a film about a man Putin has jailed to prevent him spearheading protests and running for election, or waited many hours to briefly do so.
It took state news agencies some seven hours to report the fact of the documentary’s win.
Meanwhile some state and pro-Putin outlets – including those in a media group headed by Putin’s lover Alina Kabaeva – failed to report the Navalny Oscar at all by late morning in Moscow.
Russian state media outlets are known to take orders direct from the Kremlin on what they can report to Russians on ‘sensitive’ subjects.
On its website, state news agency TASS initially reported the winners without mentioning Navalny, only updating later. Outlets RIA Novosti, Zvezda, Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Komsomolskaya Pravda did not mention Navalny at all.
The same applied to Rev TV, as well as the websites of Channel One and Rossiya 1, the major Russian propaganda state networks.
Putin, 70, is so paranoid about Navalny, 46, he never mentions his name, observers say. Navalny and his team have regularly highlighted corruption in the Kremlin and among Putin’s inner circle.
Dasha Navalnaya (left), Yulia Navalnaya (centre) and Zahar Navalny (right) attend the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12
Yulia Navalny, wife of jailed dissident Alexei Navalny, speaks next to her daughter Daria, son Zahar and director Daniel Roher after ‘Navalny’ was awarded for Best Documentary Feature Film during the Oscars show at the 95th Academy Awards in Hollywood, March 12
Daniel Roher, the members of the crew from ‘Navalny’, and the dissident’s family accept the award for best documentary feature film at the Oscars on Sunday, March 12 in Hollywood
Pictured, left to right: Zahar Navalny, Yulia Navalnaya, Maria Pevchikh, Odessa Rae, and Dasha Navalnaya arrive at the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party following the Oscars ceremony
Putin’s FSB security service is alleged to have sought to poison Navalny with a nerve agent which almost killed him.
Navalny was flying from Tomsk to Moscow on August 20, 2020 when he fell ill, and was rushed to a hospital in Omsk. He was evacuated to Germany, where doctors confirmed that he had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent – from the same family used in the Skripal poisoning in the UK in 2018.
Despite the attempt on his life and knowing he would be imprisoned, Navalny returned to Russia after his recovery on January 17, 2021 from Germany.
Upon his arrival, he was detained at passport control for violating terms of his probation. The charges against him have mounted since then, and he is currently imprisoned in a labour colony.
The arrest has been called erroneous, and the culmination of politically motivated campaign intended to bar him from running against Putin in future elections.
Ultimately, Navalny wants to stand in a free election in Russia to oust Putin and rid Russia of its oligarchic rule and corruption.
The Tsargrad TV channel lashed out at the documentary’s Oscar win, saying: ‘The Oscars this year could not do without an attempt to humiliate Russia’.
And Media Russia-News put in the heading: ‘Not a single Russian took part in the creation of the film about Navalny. It was filmed only by the Americans’.
Pro-Putin Russians on social media began to put their own spin on the Oscar.
Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin political analyst, said: ‘The film Navalny won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. This is, of course, an example of Oscar degradation.
‘After all, a documentary should show the truth of life in all its contradictions. And the film Navalny is absolutely one-dimensional propaganda. Anti-Russian propaganda. The film tries not to show the truth of life, but to hide the truth.’
Pictured: Russian opposition leader Navalny is seen in a Germany hospital with wife Yulia (right), daughter Daria (left) and son Zahar (second left) after he was poisoned in 2020
Navalny gestures sitting next to his wife Yulia in a Pobeda airlines plane heading to Moscow before take-off from Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) in Schoenefeld, southeast of Berlin, on January 17, 2021 – the day he was detained upon his return to Moscow
Former Putin speechwriter Abbas Gallyamov said the Kremlin will now portray the film’s victory as proof that Navalny is ‘a showman, not a serious politician’, as the USSR did when actor Ronald Reagan became president.
They will also argue that it shows the West underpins Navalny which ‘we already knew,’ Gallyamov, now a foe of the Russian president, said.
‘Both lines are faulty. Navalny is in a Russian prison under torture conditions. It’s anything but a show. This is a deadly serious story,’ he added.
‘Attempts to accuse the opposition figure in this situation of being a ‘showman’ will not work. This is how it was in 1980 with Reagan.’
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