Home WORLD Meet Yulia Navalnaya: Putin critic’s widow now the Russian leader’s new challenger

Meet Yulia Navalnaya: Putin critic’s widow now the Russian leader’s new challenger


Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, expressed her determination to carry on her husband’s work and advocate for a free Russia in a video message released on Monday. In the video titled “I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny,” she emphasized her desire to live in and contribute to the development of a free and democratic Russia.

Navalny, who had been President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic within Russia, passed away on Friday while serving a lengthy prison sentence in an Arctic penal colony. Yulia Navalnaya urged others to support her in continuing the fight, highlighting her husband’s long-standing opposition to Putin’s regime. Their relationship began over a decade ago when they met during a vacation in Turkey, and they quickly fell in love. Yulia, an economist by training, made the decision to prioritize raising their two children over her career, while Alexei pursued his political ambitions.

Who is Yulia Navalnaya?

Throughout Alexei’s rise as a political figure and his campaigns against Putin’s government, Yulia stood by his side. She accompanied him during mass protests in Russia and traveled with him abroad when he fell critically ill from poisoning in 2020. Despite knowing the risks, she defiantly returned with him to Moscow, where he was promptly arrested upon arrival. Their separation at the airport, with Alexei being taken away by police, marked the beginning of his imprisonment and the end of their time together as a family.

In stark contrast to Putin’s secretive personal life, the Navalny couple often shared glimpses of their family life with the public. Their open display of affection and familial bonds contrasted sharply with Putin’s guarded persona. Their last physical contact was in February 2022, after which they communicated solely through letters due to restrictions on prison visits. Despite Alexei’s lengthy prison sentence and harsh conditions, Yulia held onto hope of seeing him again until his untimely death was announced by Russian authorities on Friday.

Addressing the news of her husband’s death while attending the Munich Security Conference, Yulia Navalnaya held Putin and his government accountable for their actions. She condemned Putin for depriving her children of their father and vowed to continue fighting against the oppressive regime. Despite the immense personal toll she has endured, including witnessing Alexei’s repeated arrests, poisoning, and mistreatment, she resolved to step into a more active political role to carry forward their shared mission. Yulia Navalnaya has called upon all those who oppose Putin’s regime to come together and intensify their efforts to challenge the government’s authoritarian rule. In honoring Alexei’s legacy, she emphasized the importance of collective action in striving for a brighter future for Russia.

What we know about Alexei Navalny’s death?

Navalny was imprisoned at IK-3 penal colony in Kharp, Yamalo-Nenets region, over 1,900 km northeast of Moscow. His demise was confirmed by the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District at 2:19 pm Moscow time on Feb. 16. The announcement stated, “On Feb. 16, 2024, in penal colony number 3, convict Navalny A.A. felt unwell after a walk, almost immediately losing consciousness.” Medical staff responded promptly, administering resuscitation efforts to no avail. The ambulance team also declared Navalny’s death. Further details regarding the cause of death remain undisclosed by both penitentiary authorities and medical personnel. (With AFP inputs)

(You can now subscribe to our Economic Times WhatsApp channel)