Daria, the 20-year-old daughter of Alexei Navalni, collected the Sakharov 2021 Prize for Freedom of Conscience on Wednesday, and took the opportunity to launch a harsh criticism “of the pragmatists” who compromise with dictators. “Pacification with dictators never works,” he proclaimed to MEPs one day before a new summit of European Union leaders begins, which, most likely, will be dominated by the increase in tension between Brussels and Moscow. “I do not understand those who ask for pragmatic relations with dictators […] There are many battles in which taking the side of pragmatism means violating our ideals ”, warned the young woman, visibly nervous and receiving the applause of the MEPs.
While the daughter of the imprisoned Russian opponent spoke before the Parliament headquarters in Strasbourg, the community capital, Brussels, she is preparing to receive a new summit of heads of State and Government and in the buildings of the Commission and embassies a battery of measures to respond to Vladimir Putin if finally the movements of troops on the border of Russia and Ukraine end with the invasion of the latter. However, no one gives a hint about what those penalties consist of. The words “forcefulness”, “strong message” are heard, but not a single detail for this threat to make the Russian autocrat reconsider and return to the dialogue. And this language contrasts with that used by Daria Naválnaya when representing her father. “For obvious reasons, he cannot be here today,” he explained, referring to the opponent’s imprisonment since February.
Naválnaya also reproduced at the headquarters of the Europarliament a message that his father wanted to send on this occasion from prison: “No one can dare to identify Russia with the Putin regime. Russia strives to be part of Europe, but at the same time Europe has to fight for its founding values ”. To which the young woman added: “I hope that in the future my country can be part of this project”, referring to the European Union.
The awarding of the award to Navalni is shrouded in tension between the European Union and the regime of Vladimir Putin. The increase in Russian troops on the border with Ukraine and the specter of an invasion has added hostility in recent weeks in relations that were already poisoned in October, when it was learned that the Russian opponent was the recipient this year with the highest award of the European Union. Then it was the situation on the border between Belarus and EU countries such as Poland and Lithuania, which saw how the Aleksandr Lukashenko regime favored irregular immigration to these countries through their borders with movements that have come to be called “hybrid attacks” . Precisely this dictator has been one of the examples used by Naválnaya to explain why temporizing does not work with authoritarian regimes. She recalled that when “the pragmatists” asked not to pressure the Minsk dictator, he forced a plane to land and detained a journalist. Added to these sources of tension in recent days are the punishments imposed on the Russian mercenary network known as Wagner, accused of serious war crimes in the countries where it operates.
The 45-year-old Russian opponent managed to make a name for himself with his anti-corruption investigations of his country’s political and economic elite. This posed a serious problem for the Kremlin. After recovering in Germany from a serious poisoning for which he directly blamed President Putin, he was arrested upon returning to Moscow. He knew he was going to be arrested, because he was accused of breaking the terms of the probation he was on for a case in 2014. In Berlin he had spent several months hospitalized for the attack with a neurotoxin of military origin, Novichok, who suffered in August 2020 in Siberia.
The Russian opposition’s candidacy for the 2021 Sakharov Prize was proposed by the European People’s Party and Renew, the liberal group in which Ciudadanos is a member. The winner of the award receives 50,000 euros. However, what is important is the loudspeaker that it supposes to highlight situations of injustice. Along with the Russian opponent, Afghan women were finalists, represented by Shaharzad Akbar, from the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and 10 other women, and the former president of Bolivia, Jeanine Áñez.
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