1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Navalnaya: Navalny won't see future Russia, but we must

February 28, 2024

In an emotional speech, Yulia Navalnaya told the European Parliament that it was time for the world to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin's close circle, galvanize opposition and see to a "Russia of the future."

Yulia Navalnaya addresses the EU Parliament
Yulia Navalnaya steps into a new role at a time the Russian opposition is reeling from the loss of a leaderImage: Johanna Geron/REUTERS

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday.

"This House and its members condemn his killing in the strongest possible terms… the world is owed justice," said European Parliament President Roberta Metsola as she opened a session honoring Navalny's life. 

European lawmakers were later expected to debate Navalny's death and condemn the Russian regime and President Vladimir Putin, according to an official statement.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were also set to later discuss the dangerous situation facing opposition figures, journalists and human rights defenders in Russia. A resolution will be put to vote on Thursday.

Yulia Navalnaya ignites European Parliament

Navalnaya fears arrests at husband's funeral

During her speech, Navalnaya described Strasbourg as one of her and Navalny's favorite cities and described a trip they took with their children three years ago. "I am back to Strasbourg" but without her family, she said. 

She said she thought she would have the time to prepare for the speech for European lawmakers, but in the twelve days since her husband's death, she has been busy struggling to get access to Navalny's body.

On her late husband's planned funeral, Navalnaya said she was not sure if it would be "peaceful or whether police will arrest those who have to say goodbye to my husband."

Earlier in the day, Navalny's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh announced that his funeral will take place on Friday afternoon in Moscow.

The funeral will be held at a church in Moscow's southeast Maryino district. The burial is to be at a nearby cemetery.

"Alexei's funeral will be held in the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God "Quench My Sorrows" in Maryino on March 1 at 14.00. Come in advance. The funeral will be held at the Borisovskoye cemetery," Yarmysh wrote in Russian on X, formerly known as Twitter.  

Navalny inspired millions

Navalny had new ideas for everything, but especially in politics and in the struggle for the Russian opposition to forge itself as an opposition party, Navalnaya said in the speech. But Putin has suppressed the opposition, with Navalnaya adding: "Welcome to Putin's Russia."

But in spite of the Russian state repression, Navalny "was able to inspire millions of people with his ideas," Navalnaya said. He managed to pass on ideas that "would make the Kremlin panic."

Yulia Navalnaya speaking to European Parliament
Navalnaya told European lawmakers that just sanctions alone will not deter PutinImage: Johanna Geron/REUTERS

"If you really want to defeat Putin, you have to become an innovator," she said. Simply slapping sanctions will not achieve the set goal of defeating Putin because he was not just a politician. She twice accused him of being a "leader of a criminal gang."

The people close to Putin were whom the world had to fight. "Putin must answer for everything he has done to Alexei" Navalnaya said. She said her husband would not live to see what a "beautiful Russia of the future will look like, but we must see it."

Navalny's widow urges EU to fight Putin's 'criminal gang'

'I will continue the struggle for our country'

Navalnaya, who had long steered clear of the spotlight, has stepped up to a new role following Navalny's death in a remote penal colony in the Russian Arctic on February 16.

In a lengthy video she released three days later, Navalnaya blamed Putin for her husband's death, saying: "Putin killed half of me, half of my heart, half of my soul."

"But I have the other half left, and it's telling me that I don't have the right to give up," she had said during the 9-minute video, adding: "I will continue Alexei Navalny's work, I will continue the struggle for our country."

Russian authorities have denied any role in Navalny's death, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying the accusation was "unfounded" and "insolent."

She and Navalny were married for more than 20 years, and she was at his side as he helped lead the biggest protests in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

rm/wd (Reuters, AP)