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In Life Or Death, Alexei Navalny Will “Influence History”: Lawyer

Last week, Russian authorities announced that Alexei Navalny, 47, had suddenly died in an Arctic prison.

Paris:

Olga Mikhailova, Alexei Navalny’s top lawyer, paid an emotional tribute to the late Russian opposition leader on Wednesday, saying that whether alive or dead, opposition leaders “have no influence on history.” “I will give you that,” he said.

Mikhailova is perhaps the most high-profile member of Navalny’s legal team, having defended the opposition leader for 16 years.

She was often photographed alongside President Vladimir Putin, his biggest critic as he sought to clear his name in a years-long legal tug-of-war with the Kremlin. .

Mikhailova herself is currently the subject of a criminal investigation, having left Russia in October last year and applying for asylum in France.

“Alexei Navalny is an amazing, brave and charismatic politician,” a visibly shaken Mikhailova said at a Russian opposition event in Paris.

“The authorities claim he is dead. Even so, even if he is killed, I think he will not only leave his mark on history, but will also influence the course of history in the future. I am sure,” Mikhailova told dozens of people. Sometimes it breaks.

Russian authorities announced on Friday that Navalny, 47, had died suddenly in an Arctic prison. This announcement sent his supporters around the world into a state of shock.

Speaking at an event organized by the Russian Libertes Association, Mikhailova sometimes spoke of Navalny using the present tense.

“He’s not your average person. He’s a man of iron,” she said.

Navalny narrowly survived being poisoned with the Soviet-developed nerve agent Novichok in 2020. After receiving treatment in Germany, he returned to Russia in 2021, but was soon arrested and subsequently imprisoned.

Mikhailova said she had warned opposition politicians not to return to Russia.

“In Berlin I told him, ‘You will be in prison for 10 years,'” Mikhailova said.

“Then he smiled and replied, ‘You always say I’m going to jail. Then you’ll defend me.’

Upon his return, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Last year, a Russian court sentenced him to 19 years in prison for extremism.

Russian authorities subsequently cracked down on Navalny’s legal team.

In October, three lawyers representing Navalny were detained and charged with participating in an “extremist organization.”

Mikhailova, who was on vacation abroad when her three members of the defense team were arrested, said she decided not to return to Russia because she knew she would be imprisoned.

She wrote on Facebook in January that living abroad was difficult. “We have no home and many problems,” she added.

In mid-February, a Moscow court ordered Mikhailova arrested in absentia.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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