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Putin's critic Alexei Navalny's stoic Partner steps out of the shadows


After Navalny's death, the 47-year-old addressed the opposition in a dimly lit room with her light blond hair in a bun.

After years in his shadow, stony-faced and unwavering, Yulia Navalnaya took up her late husband Alexei's mantle on Monday, calling for action on behalf of Russia's opposition.

With her light-blond hair in her typical bun in a dimly lit room, the 47-year-old spoke to the opposition that lacks a leader in the wake of Navalny's passing. 

She said, "I call on you to stand by me," in a moving nine-minute video that, in a matter of hours, received almost 2.5 million views. 

Her spouse has been Putin's most vocal opponent for more than ten years, opposing the established leader and denouncing the corruption of the system.

Both claim to have fallen in love right away when they first met while on vacation in Turkey.

Navalnaya, a trained economist, quit her work to take care of the couple's two kids.

However, she avoided being in the public eye and kept it as private as possible while Alexei's political career took off.

She accompanied him on his flight out of Russia while he lay in a coma following a poisoning in 2020 and supported him when he incited widespread protests in that nation.

She was defiant when the couple flew back to Moscow five months later, knowing that it would put him in jail.

In a video, Navalnaya sits next to Alexei on an aircraft and says, "Waiter, bring us some vodka, we're flying home," mimicking a scene from a Russian cult movie.

'Closest and most beloved person'

The last time she saw her husband free, they were split up at passport control upon landing.

Before police removed him and she arrived at the airport to chants of "Yulia!" they shared a fleeting embrace.

Putin maintains complete secrecy about his personal life, but the couple frequently shared pictures of their family life with their kids. 

They didn't see each other until February 2022, and since prison visits were outlawed, they could only communicate by letter. 

Since then, even as he was sentenced to 19 years in prison and placed in the most severe prison possible, she had held onto the hope that she would see him again.

However, after spending more than three years in prison, Russian prison authorities declared on Friday that the Kremlin critic had passed away.

Shortly after the announcement, Navalnaya, who was present at the Munich Security Conference, made a statement.

"If this is true, then I want Putin and all his entourage, Putin's friends and his government to know: they will bear responsibility for what they did to our country, to my family, to my husband."

'Fight more fiercely'

When Navalny's team confirmed the opposition leader's passing on Saturday, hopes were finally dashed.

"My children's father was killed by Putin. The closest, most cherished person I had—Putin took that away from me," Navalnaya said on Monday.

Over the years, she had witnessed her husband being mistreated, poisoned, and arrested.

Because of this, Navalny used to joke that her opinions were more radical than his.

In an interview, Navalny stated, "When you are not a politician, but you see the darkest things against your family, then, of course, it radicalises you."

Still, Navalnaya had maintained that her primary roles were that of a wife and mother, with no interest in entering the political sphere.

But many observers, who had once focused on him, wondered if anyone else could bring the divided opposition together.

And Navalnaya finally agreed to take up the mantle after decades of rejecting calls to engage in more active politics.

"The most important thing we can do for Alexei and for ourselves is to continue to fight more desperately, more fiercely than before," she stated.

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"I understand that it appears like there is no hope left. However, in order to overthrow this insane government, we must all unite into one powerful fist."

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