Imprisoned Navalny learns that a documentary about him is winning an Oscar

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — 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 faced a court hearing in Kovrov, the city where the prison is located in the Vladimir region, east of Moscow. President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic attended a hearing on his complaint against Russian prison officials.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the Oscar award at the briefing, saying he had not seen the film and therefore “it would not make sense to say anything” about it. He added that “Hollywood sometimes does not shy away from politicizing its work.”

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 follows Navalny’s career fighting official corruption, his near-fatal nerve agent poisoning in 2020, which he blames on the Kremlin, and his five-month recovery in Germany and his return to Moscow in 2021, where he was immediately taken. custody at 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 at the event that the only way the family can stay in touch with him is through letters, and defenders can visit him occasionally. His health is deteriorating, he said, which is worrying.

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 struggle against evil, which is now tormenting the whole world and, first of all, Ukraine.”

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


Associated Press journalist Kostya Manenkov contributed in Tallinn.


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