Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has dedicated a human rights award to all political prisoners in Russia and Belarus, his daughter told a summit of rights groups.
“My dad asked me today to give this award to every single political prisoner in Russia and Belarus,” Daria Navalnaya said in a video statement to the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy on June 8.
“He wrote that most of them are in a much worse situation compared to me, because they’re not as well known or famous,” she said, citing a letter from her father.
“They should know that they are not alone or forgotten about,” the 20-year-old said in her first public comments since her father’s jailing in February.
Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics, was arrested in January upon his return from Germany where he was treated for a nerve agent poisoning suffered in Siberia in August. He has accused Putin of ordering the poisoning, which the Kremlin has denied.
The anti-corruption campaigner is now serving a 2 1/2 year prison sentence on a charge that he broke the terms of probation by leaving Russia for Germany for the life-saving treatment he received.
“You really should be looking at my father instead, but he’s in a Russian prison right now simply because of what he says, does and believes in — and because he didn’t die when the Russian government wanted him to,” said Navalnaya, who is currently a student at Stanford University in the United States.
“For all these years, he has been showing the people in power, who are shamelessly abusing that power, that this is not going to work, that we are the majority,” she said. “We, the citizens, will decide who is going to rule our country and for how long.”
But she also expressed concern about “the fast downfall of democracy in my country.”
Navalny was given the award for his “extraordinary courage and heroic efforts to sound the alarm about the Putin regime’s grave violations of the human rights of the Russian people,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, which co-organizes the event sponsored by a coalition of 25 human rights organizations.