Meet Yulia Navalnaya, The New Face of Resistance in Russia After Alexie Navalny's Death

Meet Yulia Navalnaya, The New Face of Resistance in Russia After Alexie Navalny's Death
Yulia Navalnaya poses with her award during the 75th Bambi Awards | Getty Images | Photo by Gerald Matzka

As Russia lost Vladimir Putin’s best-known rival, Alexei Navalny, it has unexpectedly gained a new symbol of resistance in the form of Yulia Navalnaya, Alexei Navalny’s widow. Yulia Navalnaya, who never sought the spotlight before, has stepped in to carry forward her husband’s legacy after he died in a Russian prison colony on February 16.

Following his death, Yulia shared a video in which she declared that she would continue her husband’s work. “To continue to fight for our country. And I call on you to stand beside me,” she said in the video. Allies and friends of Navalny describe Yulia as a fierce supporter of her husband, working behind the scenes of the political movement he built.

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Yulia Navalnaya was born Yulia Abrosimova on June 24, 1976, in Moscow to a scientist and a government worker. She graduated from the prestigious Plekhanov Russian University of Economics and worked for some time in a Moscow bank.

Yulia met Alexei Navalny on a holiday in Turkey in 1998, when he worked as a lawyer. When Alexei met Yulia, he was captivated by her ability to name all of Russia's current ministers by heart, Reuters reported citing a Sobesednik newspaper article published in 2020. The couple were once members of the liberal Yabloko party as well.

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A post shared by Юлия Навальная (@yulia_navalnaya)


 

Alexei and Yulia got married two years later and she became a stay-at-home mother to their children, Daria and Zakhar. When Alexei began his resistance movement, Navalnaya frequently appeared beside him at rallies, on the campaign trail, and in the courtroom during his many trials.

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In 2013, she made her first significant appearance during the criminal trial against Alexei in Kirov. She apperaed calm and composed during the trial in which her husband faced a sentence of 10 years in prison for alleged fraud.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia, in a protest outside of Zamoskvoretsky District Court | Getty Images | Photo by Sasha Mordovets
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia during a protest outside of Zamoskvoretsky District Court | Getty Images | Photo by Sasha Mordovets

"These bastards will never see our tears," she said after Navalny was handed a five-year sentence, which was later suspended after protests. In 2014, when Alexei was put under house arrest and cut off from the internet, it was Yulia who sent messages from him to the staff of his Anti-Corruption Foundation.

She also played a key role in Alexei’s evacuation in August 2020 from Russia to a German hospital, after he was poisoned in an FSB assassination attempt. Yulia sent a letter to the Kremlin appealing for it to intervene and grant permission for Alexei to be flown out of Russia.

She also pressured the Russian doctors by bringing in camera crews, which forced them to treat her husband. Soon, he was evacuated to Germany, where he recovered at Berlin’s Charité hospital.



 

“She was the person who got Alexei evacuated to Germany for treatment after two days of fighting in Omsk,” Kira Yarmysh, an aide to Navalny, said on Monday, according to a Guardian report.

On Valentine’s Day this year, two days before his death, Alexei’s Instagram account posted a picture with Yulia with the caption, “I feel that you’re close every second and I love you more and more.”


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Алексей Навальный (@navalny)


 

Yulia, 47, was also seen at Alexei’s side in his documentary where the couple expressed unfaltering passion for each other and their vision of a free and democratic future for Russia.

However, Yulia had openly expressed that she wanted to stay away from politics. Even in 2021, when Alexei began his sentence, in a rare interview she said she would resist going into politics, the Guardian report reported.

However, she shocked the world with her video announcement as she vowed to expose the people who killed her husband and to carry forward his legacy.

“A different person should be sitting in front of you but Vladimir Putin killed him,” she said in the video.

In an emotional video posted on Alexei’s YouTube channel, she began her new political life by reprising her husband’s catchphrase “Hello, this is Navalny!” . She started the video by saying  “Hello, this is Yulia Navalnaya”. 



 

Yulia pledged to continue her husband's fight and urged others to fight "harder, more desperately, and more fiercely," than before.

She added that her husband was "unbreakable," and that is “exactly why Vladimir Putin killed him.” The Kremlin has denied any involvement in Navalny's death.

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