Russia issues arrest warrant for Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Alexey Navalny

Russia on Tuesday announced an arrest warrant for Yulia Navalnaya, the exiled widow of the late Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

The country accused Navalnaya of participating in an “extremist organization.” A court said it had “approved the request of the investigators and decided a preventive measure in the form of detention for two months.” Little information about the charges was shared. 

Navalnaya derided the decision on social media, calling Putin a killer and a war criminal and saying he belongs in prison. 

Yulia Navalnaya speaks to the media after leaving the Russian Embassy, in Berlin
Yulia Navalnaya outside the Russian Embassy in Berlin, Germany, March 17, 2024.

Annegret Hilse/REUTERS

Navalnaya “was arrested (in absentia!) for ‘being a member of an extremist community’ by the infamous Basmanny court of Moscow,” wrote Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s former chief of staff, on social media.

“Quite a recognition of Yulia’s determination to continue Alexei’s fight!” he added, using a different spelling of Navalny’s name.

Navalnaya, an economist, stood by her husband as he galvanized mass protests in Russia, flying him out of the country when he was poisoned before defiantly returning to Moscow with him in 2021, knowing he would be jailed. Following his death, she vowed to take up her late husband’s work and has lobbied against Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s government from abroad.  

Navalny was a fierce critic of Putin and ran against him for the nation’s presidency in 2017. In 2020, he was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok while flying from Moscow to Siberia. He was transferred to a hospital in Germany for treatment. Navalny later told 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl that he believed Putin was responsible for the assassination attempt. 

Navalny and Navalnaya lived in Germany briefly after his poisoning, and returned to Russia in January 2021. Navalny was immediately arrested and charged with violating the terms of a previous suspended sentence for failing to check in with prison officials while in Germany. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. His sentence was later extended by 19 years. 

Biden meets with Yulia Navalnaya, Alexey Navalny’s widow, in California


In late 2023, Navalny was moved to an Arctic penal colony. He died there in February 2024, sparking global outrage and new sanctions against Russia.  

His posthumous memoir will be published in October.

Since Navalny’s death, Navalnaya has returned to Germany. On July 1, she was named the new chairperson of the Human Rights Foundation. 

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