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‘This will lead to our country’s collapse’ Alexey Navalny's address to the Russian public as the state seeks new charges against him.

Source: Meduza
Yevgeny Feldman / Meduza

On March 15, 2022, in Correctional Colony No. 2 in the town of Pokrov in Russia’s Vladimir region, Alexey Navalny was put on trial yet again. Federal prosecutors asked Moscow’s Lefortovo court to sentence Navalny, who stands accused of fraud and contempt of court, to 13 years in a maximum security penal colony. Navalny used the opportunity to address the public, giving two emotional pleas: one during oral arguments and another during his closing statement. According to Mediazona, the courtroom broadcast was repeatedly interrupted, so journalists weren’t able to hear all of what was said. Below are both of Navalny’s statements, with some unavoidable omissions. The first comes from The Insider, and the second comes from Mediazona. The verdict will be announced at 10 am on March 22.

Navalny’s statement during oral arguments

I hate your authority and despise your judicial system. Because it’s impossible not to hate. Isn’t it humiliating for you to pretend you’re judges and prosecutors, when in reality, you’re just cogs whose sole purpose is to repeat something you were told over the phone?

What I wouldn’t give to read your thoughts, your honor. Isn’t there at least a tiny part of you saying, “To hell with it?” That’s what [prosecution witness Fyodor] Gorozhanko decided — and he told the truth here.

Why do you think this impunity will last forever?

If you think I’ll get scared, or that you can scare everybody in Russia, people like the wonderful [Pervyi Kanal employee] Marina Ovsyannikova, who didn’t just speak up — she recorded a video and told us the most important words: act now.

You can’t lock up everyone. Go ahead, ask for 113 years [in prison] and give it to me — you won’t scare me or anybody else like me. Russia’s big, there are a lot of people here, and not everybody’s cowardly enough to betray their future and their children’s futures like you are.

Navalny’s closing statement

We’ve had so many final statements it’s almost funny. People are starting to roll their eyes: if these are really his last words, why do we keep hearing from him? I want to start by addressing something. These trials are basically a dialogue between me, my associates, and the authorities… I want to use my final statement as a chance to officially address anyone who thinks the Anti-Corruption Foundation is coming to an end just because I’ll be in isolation for a long time. No! Not only will it continue, the Anti-Corruption Foundation will become global, international.

As far as this process, it was a distinct one — it was markedly different from any other. Not for procedural reasons, but because it's in a prison colony… The difference was that — there’s no denying it — this case didn’t interest anyone. Of course, against the backdrop of a war, it’s less interesting.

Broadcast interrupted.

I ask my grandmother where it hurts…

Broadcast interrupted.

The Baltic States all had quite a few of their own problems. But no European country is comparable to our country, which is wasting away. We had everything we needed to live like they do. And none of it came to fruition. Since 2000, there’s been a massive flow of petrodollars, but since 2013, people’s income has fallen and fallen. The only thing that’s increased is the number of billionaires. Everyone’s getting poorer, while those thousand Putin families who pocketed all that money have responded with a war. Economists are talking about a lost decade. Are we really the ones who lost that decade? We were walking down the street and we just lost it? It’s a stolen decade! Meant to silence anyone who talks about this. To plug the ears of anyone who’s hearing this, we need a war, which…

Broadcast is interrupted.

...that the consequence of this war will be a breakdown, the collapse of our country. It sounds a little wild. But the phrase “Russo-Ukrainian War” also sounds pretty wild. I myself said in this very courtroom when the trial began that everyone who thinks there will be a war is crazy. All the talk about our country collapsing is starting to sound more and more likely.

They’re just a group of sick, crazy old men. They don’t have sympathy for anyone or anything. And our country is the very last thing they care about. Their only motherland is their Swiss bank accounts. And whatever they say about patriotism is a myth — as well as an enormous threat to us all. It’s actually clear what we need to do. It’s every person’s duty right now to oppose the war. It’s said that peacemakers are called the sons of God.

It’s a lot better to be a free, divine person than one of Putin’s lackeys, who will be devoured by demons in hell. But I do have one mighty person helping me. To get into the courtroom, I have to go through an inspection. And four to eight times a day, I go through the Russian language office — right over there. And every time, an officer checks my underwear while I stand there naked. And on the wall, I see Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy. He has a great quote, I wrote it in my journal…

Broadcast turned off.

Learn more about the charges against Navalny

In prison and on trial Here’s why Alexey Navalny is back in court and facing up to 15 more years behind bars

Learn more about the charges against Navalny

In prison and on trial Here’s why Alexey Navalny is back in court and facing up to 15 more years behind bars

Translation by Sam Breazeale

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