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Yulia Navalnaya to receive DW Freedom of Speech Award 2024

May 3, 2024

The widow of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation are the 10th DW Freedom of Speech Award laureates.

Yulia Navalnaya  stands in a queue with other voters at a polling station near the Russian embassy in Berlin, after noon local time, on Sunday, March 17, 2024
Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, has taken over his mantle from exileImage: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP Photo/picture alliance

DW's Freedom of Speech Award 2024 will go to Yulia Navalnaya and the Russian Anti-Corruption Foundation, Germany's international public broadcaster announced on Friday.

Navalnaya is the widow of the late Russian opposition leader — and founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation — Alexei Navalny.

She will receive the 10th Freedom of Speech Award in person on June 5 in Berlin.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner will deliver the laudatory speech.

Freedom of Speech Award: DW honors Navalny's widow

Yulia Navalnaya's 'unwavering courage' 

"Yulia Navalnaya has supported her husband Alexei Navalny's political work in the fight for freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Russia from the very beginning — despite all the risks, constant threats and personal restrictions," said DW Director General Peter Limbourg. 

"I bow to her unwavering courage, her conviction and the strength with which she fights for a free Russia and stands up for those whom (Russian President) Vladimir Putin wants to silence," he added.

Earlier in April, Navalnaya also received the German Freedom Prize of the Media.

Navalnaya has been a leading dissident voice against Putin, particularly since her husband's death in a Russian prison camp in February.

Yulia Navalnaya steps to political front to oppose Kremlin

What is the Anti-Corruption Foundation?

Navalny established the organization in 2011 with the stated purpose of fighting corruption in Russia by investigating suspected cases of corruption and researching the activities of the Russian elite.

Russian authorities banned the group in 2021, but it reemerged internationally a year later to continue the fight. Russia labels the group as an "extremist organization."

The Anti-Corruption Foundation publishes the results of its investigations on Navalny's YouTube channel. It established a list of so-called "bribers and warmongers," Putin's confidants and allies who have been proven to corruptly influence politics, business and banking on the Russian president's behalf.

The foundation's advisory board includes Member of European Parliament and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anne Applebaum and political scientist Francis Fukuyama.

Putin's nemesis: Who was Alexei Navalny?

Russian clampdown on journalists

The award comes amid a heightened crackdown on Russian journalists.

Just days before DW's announcement, Russian police detained journalists Konstantin Gabov, who formerly worked as a correspondent for DW, and Sergei Karelin, a cameraman. 

Authorities claimed that the arrests were part of combating extremism, accusing them of preparing material for a YouTube channel linked to Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation.

The two journalists had previously worked with DW. However, the charges against them are not connected to their work with the German broadcaster, which is also banned in Russia.

Russia's clampdown on Kremlin-critical journalists

What is the DW Freedom of Speech Award? 

Since 2015, the DW Freedom of Speech Award (FoSA) has honored a media person or initiative that has shown outstanding promotion of freedom rights, especially freedom of expression and press freedom.

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was the first DW Freedom of Speech Award recipient. 

Last year saw El Salvador-born journalist Oscar Martinez, who is the editor-in-chief of the Salvadoran online magazine El Faro (The Lighthouse), honored for his work.

AP journalist and novelist Mstyslav Chernov and freelance photojournalist Evgeniy Maloletka were honored for their work covering Russia's war in Ukraine in 2022. 

The Freedom of Speech Award ceremony is typically one of the highlights of DW's Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany.