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Imprisoned Navalny learns that a documentary about him wins an Oscar


TALLINN, Estonia — Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny learned from his lawyer on Monday that a film detailing his poisoning and political activism had won the Oscar for best documentary feature.

The 46-year-old politician was attending a hearing via video link from prison when his lawyer broke the news to him about director Daniel Roher’s “Navalny” documentary, according to his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh. She called it “the most remarkable announcement of an (Oscar) win in history.”

Yarmysh did not report what Navalny’s initial reaction to the Oscar win was.

According to Yarmysh, Navalny faced a court hearing in Kovrov, a town near the location of the prison in the Vladimir region east of Moscow. President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic has attended the hearing on a complaint he filed against Russian prison officials.

In a briefing, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the Oscar win, saying he hadn’t seen the film and therefore “wouldn’t make sense to say anything”. He added that “Hollywood sometimes doesn’t shy away from politicizing its work.”

Monday’s hearing focused on one of several lawsuits provocateur Navalny has filed against prison administrators for what he alleges are violations of his rights. Two more hearings were scheduled, but these were postponed to later dates.

The documentary depicts Navalny’s career fighting official corruption, his near-fatal poisoning with a nerve agent in 2020 that he blames on the Kremlin, and his five-month recovery in Germany and his 2021 return to Moscow, where he was immediately taken care of. custody at the airport. He was then sentenced to 2.5 years in prison and last year was convicted and sentenced to another nine years.

Navalny faced relentless pressure from the authorities. He spent several weeks in solitary confinement in a tiny “punishment cell” and last month was placed in restricted accommodation for six months. He is indeed deprived of telephone calls or visits from his family.

During the ceremony on Sunday evening in Los Angeles, Roher accepted his Oscar saying he would dedicate it to Navalny and to all political prisoners in the world.

“Alexei, the world has not forgotten your vital message for all of us: we must not be afraid to oppose dictators and authoritarianism wherever it turns its head,” he said.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, also spoke out, saying, “My husband is in jail just for telling the truth. My husband is in prison just for standing up for democracy. Alexei, I dream of the day when you will be free and our country will be free. Stay strong, my love.

His daughter Dasha told reporters at the event that the only way the family could keep in touch with him was by sending him letters and that defense attorneys could visit him occasionally. His health is deteriorating, she said, which is worrying.

Lyubov Sobol, a longtime ally of Navalny, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the success of the documentary represented “an important signal that the world sees the struggle efforts for democracy in Russia, the world supports the brave people who challenged Vladimir Putin and led the unequal battle against evil, which now torments the whole world and Ukraine in the first place.

“It’s a very important win and I was incredibly happy,” Sobol said.


Associated Press reporter Kostya Manenkov in Tallinn contributed.


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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.