Yulia Navalnaya on her husband, her family and Russia

By Thomson Reuters Feb 21, 2024 | 4:37 AM

LONDON (Reuters) – Yulia Navalnaya has vowed to continue the work of her husband Alexei Navalny, Russia’s best known opposition politician, who died suddenly in an Arctic penal colony last week.

Navalnaya mostly avoided the spotlight while her husband was alive. Here is a selection of quotes from her interviews, public appearances and social media posts about her husband, her family, President Vladimir Putin and her country.


Navalnaya has spoken touchingly of her husband and their relationship. In a nine-minute video message released this week in which she said she would take up her husband’s cause, Navalnaya said “By killing Alexei, Putin killed half of me – half of my heart and half of my soul.”

On stage at the Oscars in 2023 after the film “Navalny” won best documentary feature, Navalnaya said: “My husband is in prison just for defending democracy. Alexei, I’m dreaming (of) the day when you will be free and our country will be free. Stay strong, my love.”

In 2013 she told the independent Russian TV station Dozhd (TV Rain): “I married neither a promising lawyer nor an opposition leader. I married a young man named Alexei. A man who made it clear from the beginning that things could take a sharp turn, so for me nothing unexpected has happened.” The interview aired ahead of Navalny’s trial for theft. His five-year sentence was later suspended and he walked free.

“I picture him as president… I probably don’t really see myself as a first lady. I imagine myself as his wife, whoever he is,” she told TV Rain.


When asked by the TV Rain interviewer in 2013 if she had ever asked her husband to quit politics, Navalnaya replied: “No, I’ve never said that to my husband in my life, I really haven’t, because I sincerely understand that he’s not doing this (political activism) for himself. He’s doing this for my kids, for everyone, and he wants life to change for the better.”

During Navalny’s 2013 Moscow mayoral campaign, Navalnaya addressed a large crowd of his supporters at a rally in the capital:

“In Russia, it so happens that we do not see the wives of politicians on stage at rallies. But politics breaks into families by itself, whether you want it to or not…

“But I came out here to say that if someone in power perceives our family as a vulnerability, they are deeply mistaken. Family is the strength of every normal person, and even more so of a politician.”

In 2018, the head of Russia’s National Guard and a key Putin ally, Viktor Zolotov, challenged Navalny to a duel in a public video message, charging him with making libellous and insulting corruption accusations and vowing to make a “nice juicy steak” out of the opposition leader.

In response, Navalnaya posted a photo of herself and her two children, Daria and Zakhar, on Instagram with the caption: “Of course, I consider this (Zolotov’s video) as a threat to both Alexei and our entire family. This is a threat from an arrogant bandit revelling in his impunity…

“Our family has been living for many years in such a way that searches, arrests and threats have become commonplace. Well, now another thug is threatening (us). One more, one less – what’s the difference? I’m not afraid of them.”


On Monday, Navalnaya attended a meeting of the European Union foreign affairs council in Brussels and urged them to take stronger action against the Kremlin.

She said that Putin “killed my husband”. The Kremlin denied involvement in his death and said an investigation was under way to determine what happened.

Navalnaya called next month’s presidential election a sham, as “a president who has killed his main opponent cannot be legitimate by definition”.

“Putin has proved that there is nothing to negotiate,” she said. “He does not understand the language of diplomacy and does not recognise any rules of the game. So maybe we should stop playing by the rules, too?”

Navalnaya told German magazine Der Spiegel in 2023: “For us, it was always clear that the longer Putin stays in power, the worse it would get. Putin will stop at nothing to keep power and money. After the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, I think it became obvious to everyone. It can’t be forgiven.”


Navalnaya told The Symbol, a Russian women’s magazine, in 2021: “When we talk about the laws that women desperately need, the first thing we need to remember is income inequality. When doing the same work as a man, a woman will almost always receive less. This issue must be resolved at the state level.”

She said the state should provide more support to single mothers and that kindergarten should be free.


“I was born and raised in Moscow. My parents were born and raised here,” Navalnaya told a rally during Navalny’s 2013 mayoral campaign. “I love this city, and I want my children to dream of living in this city. I want to see another government in Moscow, I want to see a mayor who acts in the interests of everyone, a mayor who is not afraid to tell the truth. I want a smart and responsible government.”

She has said several times that she and Navalny never wished to leave Russia and raise their children elsewhere.

“We have never considered it (emigration)…Alexei definitely wants, and I want, our children to live in Russia,” Navalnaya told TV Rain in 2013.

In her video message on Monday, she said: “I want to live in a free Russia, I want to build a free Russia.”

She added: “I ask you to share the rage with me. Rage, anger, hatred towards those who dared to kill our future.”

(Reporting and writing by Lucy Papachristou; Editing by Nick Macfie)