Imprisoned Alexei Navalny learns documentary about him wins Oscar

TALLINN, Estonia — Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny learned from his lawyer Monday that a film about his poisoning and political activism has won an Oscar for best documentary.

The 46-year-old politician was attending a court hearing via video from prison when his lawyer informed him about director Daniel Rohr’s documentary Navalny, according to his spokeswoman Kira Yarmish. He called it “the most remarkable announcement to win (an Oscar) in history.”

Yarmish did not say what Navalny’s initial reaction was to winning the Oscar.

According to Yarmish, Navalny was arraigned in the city of Kovrov, near the Vladimir region prison east of Moscow. President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic attended a hearing on his complaint against Russian prison officials.

During a daily press conference, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the Oscar award, saying he had not seen the film and therefore “it wouldn’t make sense to say anything” about it. He added that “Hollywood sometimes does not shy away from politicizing its work.”

Russian state television largely ignored the victory.

PHOTO: Imprisoned Navalny learns that a documentary about him will win an Oscar

Monday’s hearing was one of many lawsuits a recalcitrant Navalny has filed against prison administrators for what he says are violations of his rights. Two more sessions were planned, but they were postponed to a later date.

The documentary chronicles Navalny’s career fighting official corruption, his near-fatal nerve agent poisoning in 2020 that he blames on the Kremlin, his five-month recovery in Germany, and his return to Moscow in 2021, where he was immediately arrested. the airport. He was later sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and last year was sentenced to another nine years.

Navalny faced relentless pressure from the authorities. He spent a few weeks in solitary confinement as a small “penance” and last month was placed in a restricted housing unit for six months. He is effectively denied phone calls or family visits.

At a ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday night, Rohrer accepted his Oscar, saying he dedicated it to Navalny and all political prisoners around the world.

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

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, also spoke, saying: “My husband is in prison only for telling the truth. My husband is in prison only for defending democracy. Alexey, 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 that the family can only keep in touch with him through letters, while defenders can visit him occasionally. His health is getting worse, which is worrying, he said.

Lyubov Sobol, a longtime ally of Navalny, told The Associated Press that the documentary’s success “is an important signal that the world sees the effort to fight for democracy in Russia, that the world supports the brave and courageous people who challenged Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Putin. waged an unequal battle against the evil that is now tormenting the whole world and Ukraine first of all.”

“This is a very important victory and I was incredibly happy,” said Sobol.

Another ally of Navalny, Maria Pevchikh, wrote on Instagram: “Alexei, this is your prize. It’s not about the movie. The point is that what you do cannot leave anyone indifferent. Be it in Russia, Hollywood or anywhere else. (You) are a real hero.”

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