Russia: Yulia Navalnaïa, a discreet but assured ally for Alexeï Navalny

Audio 03:30

Yulia Navalnaïa, the wife of Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny, very present by his side, while being discreet, is an asset for him.

© AP / Alexander Zemlianichenko

By: Anastasia Becchio

8 min

Televisions around the world immortalized her last kiss to her husband, before he was taken to his place of detention: Yulia Navalnaïa finally returned, without Alexeï Navalny, to her Moscow apartment.

Over the course of the hardships endured by her husband, Yulia Navalnaïa gradually became more than the wife of an opponent. 



The most important thing Alexei said today is that he's not afraid.

I am not afraid either and I ask you all not to be afraid.

 »Under applause, Yulia Navalnaïa leaves Moscow airport, without her husband,

arrested at passport control

, when he arrived from Berlin where he was treated after his poisoning, which risks being sentenced to several years prison for violating the conditions of his judicial review.

The opponent's wife, very present at his side, while being discreet, is an asset for him.

This is the feeling of Véra Tchélysheva, journalist for Novaya Gazeta, who awarded her the title of heroine of the year, last month.

She respects what he does, she follows him everywhere: she goes with him to demonstrations, goes to wait for him at the exit of the detention centers, she accompanies him to the trials when he is tried… What is important c 'is that he loves her very much, that he respects her too.

Alexeï Navalny has a tough character, but this love they have for each other raises it, in a way.


Yulia Navalnaïa on the front line

At 44, this blonde with light eyes, elegant, graduate in international relations, has mainly devoted herself to the education of the two children of the couple, Daria, 20, a student in the United States, and Zakhar, 13.

Proud of his very photogenic family, Navalny regularly posts pictures on social networks. 


the poisoning of her husband in Siberia

, Yulia Navalnaïa finds herself on the front line.

She writes to Vladimir Putin, fights against the doctors whom she accuses of lying under pressure from members of the secret service, and ends up obtaining her transfer to Germany, as she recounted in an interview shot in Berlin by the youtubeur Yuri Doude.

 It was terrifying.

But I understood that I couldn't let go, because I'm the closest person, his wife, and if I collapse everyone collapses.

Every moment I was thinking to myself: I have to get him out of there, I have to get him out of there… Not to collapse and get him out of there, 

”she said.

After coming out of the coma, Alexeï Navalny will write on social networks: “ 

Yulia, you saved me


But even after taking the spotlight, the opponent's wife prefers to stay in her shadow, as political scientist Dmitry Orechkin analyzes.

From the shadow to the light ?


She has always remained in the shadows.

She is an intelligent woman and she did not want to interfere with her political game.

Alexeï Navalny has a strong personality, he is a populist, and the image of a husband dominated by his wife would not suit him.

When the poisoning took place, she had to star, but she has no political agenda, she only defends her husband, just like Svetlana Tikhanovskhaya,

 ”he comments. 

Is Yulia the next Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, this wife of an opponent imprisoned in Belarus, who has

become the face of the protest


Discussions have been relaunched in recent days, but Véra Tchélysheva does not believe it: “ 

Of course our propagandists on state television channels are talking about this, but she herself has never made any declaration or promise in that Sens.

I don't see her in a political role


No big political ambitions

Like her husband, Yulia née Abrossimova, faces attacks, surveillance and pressure.

Rumor has it that his father worked in the military intelligence service.


A pure invention,

 " she says.

Just like his alleged political ambitions, according to Dmitri Orechkine.


She is very brave, very intelligent, very beautiful, but I have the impression that she is not very ambitious.

She could, for example, make a very good first lady, but for the rest, she is not ambitious enough.

It's a bit like Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: she plays this role, but she understands that she is a symbol rather than a motor

 ”, thinks Dmitri Orechkin.

A media outlet close to power recently threatened to publish alleged intimate exchanges between Alexei Navalny and other women if his wife did not publicly pledge not to become Russia's Tikhanovskaya.


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