During Court Hearing, Navalny Finds Out Documentary Won Oscar

Lawyer for imprisoned opposition leader calls it the 'most remarkable announcement' of an Oscar win
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 13, 2023 2:34 PM CDT
Lawyer Tells Navalny Documentary Won Oscar
Daniel Roher and the members of the crew from "Navalny" accept the award for best documentary feature film at the Oscars on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny learned Monday from his lawyer that a film detailing his poisoning and political activism won the Oscar for best documentary feature. The 46-year-old politician was attending a court hearing via video link from the prison when his attorney broke the news to him about the documentary, Navalny, by director Daniel Roher, according to his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh. She called it "the most remarkable announcement of an (Oscar) win in history," the AP reports. Yarmysh did not report what Navalny's initial reaction was to the Oscar win.

According to Yarmysh, Navalny faced a court hearing in Kovrov, a town near where the prison is located in the Vladimir region east of Moscow. The opposition leader, one of President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, participated in the hearing on a complaint he filed against Russian penitentiary officials. At a briefing, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the Oscar win, saying that he hasn’t seen the film and thus "it wouldn’t make sense to say anything" about it. He added that "Hollywood sometimes does not shun politicizing its work." Monday's hearing was on one of the many lawsuits the defiant Navalny has filed against prison administrators over what he alleges are violations of his rights.

Navalny has faced unrelenting pressure from authorities. He spent several weeks in isolation in a tiny "punishment cell" and has been placed in a restricted housing unit for six months. At the ceremony Sunday night in Los Angeles, Roher accepted his Oscar by saying he dedicated it to Navalny and to all political prisoners around the world. "Alexei, the world has not forgotten your vital message to us all: We must not be afraid to oppose dictators and authoritarianism wherever it rears its head," the director said. Navalny's wife, Yulia, also spoke, saying: "My husband is in prison just for telling the truth. My husband is in prison just for defending democracy. Alexei, I am dreaming of the day you will be free and our country will be free. Stay strong, my love."

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Lyubov Sobol, Navalny's longtime ally, said in an interview with the AP that the documentary's success represented "an important signal that the world sees the efforts to fight for democracy in Russia, the world supports brave and courageous people who have challenged Vladimir Putin and have been fighting the unequal battle with evil, which is now tormenting the entire world and Ukraine in the first place." (More Alexei Navalny stories.)

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