Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for Alexei Navalny’s Widow

Yulia Navalnaya, who has promised to continue her late husband’s work, will face arrest if she ever returns home.Published Jul. 09, 2024 11:45PM EDT Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty ImagesA Moscow court on Tuesday ordered the arrest of the widow of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny on charges of extremism. Yulia Navalnaya, who has lived abroad in self-exile

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Yulia Navalnaya, who has promised to continue her late husband’s work, will face arrest if she ever returns home.

AJ McDougall

Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Alexei Navalny, walks away from his picture after lighting a candle at the end of a service in St. Mary's Church

Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images

A Moscow court on Tuesday ordered the arrest of the widow of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny on charges of extremism.

Yulia Navalnaya, who has lived abroad in self-exile since 2021, was accused of “participating in an extremist community” and placed on an international wanted list, according to The New York Times.

“Vladimir Putin is a murderer and a war criminal,” Navalnaya tweeted in response to news of the arrest order. “His place is in prison, and not somewhere in The Hague, in a cozy cell with a TV, but in Russia—in the same colony and the same two-by-three-meter cell in which he killed Alexei.”

An explicit reason for Navalnaya’s charges was not shared in a press release from the Basmanny District Court, which issued the arrest order.

But Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s former chief of staff, pointed to Navalnaya’s work with the Anti-Corruption Federation in a post on X. Founded by Navalny in 2011 with the goal of exposing Russian government corruption, the nonprofit was branded an “extremist organization” by Moscow a decade later. Navalnaya sits on its advisory board.

Volkov added that the order was “quite a recognition of Yulia’s determination to continue Alexei’s fight.”

Navalny, long Putin’s fiercest critic, died in a remote Arctic penal colony in February after months of reported psychological and physical abuse. He was arrested after flying into Russia with Navalnaya in 2021—a defiant return that followed his near-fatal poisoning with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok the previous year.

Collared on criminally charges that were internationally condemned as trumped-up, Navalny was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. His sentence was later extended by 19 years.

Navalny’s collapse and subsequent death sparked an international furor and a fresh round of sanctions against Russia. But Navalnaya cautioned European leaders soon after that economic penalties would not be enough.

“If you really want to defeat Putin, you have to become an innovator,” she said in a speech to European Parliament in Strasbourg, France in late February. “You have to stop being boring. You cannot hurt Putin with another resolution or another set of sanctions that is no different from the previous ones.”

She and her two children did not attend Navalny’s funeral in Russia over fears they could be arrested.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in his death, but Navalnaya and her allies have repeatedly accused Putin of orchestrating his calculated murder.

Navalnaya has vowed to continue her husband’s fight, promising the European Parliament she would do her best “to make his dream come true.” She was elected the new chair of the Human Rights Foundation earlier this month, and has been at work on his posthumous memoir, due out in October.

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