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Before He Died in Prison, Aleksei Navalny Wrote a Memoir. It’s Coming This Fall.

In the years before his death in a Russian prison, Aleksei A. Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, was writing a memoir about his life and work as a pro-democracy activist.

Titled “Patriot,” the memoir will be published in the United States by Knopf on October 22, with an initial print run of half a million copies and simultaneous release in several countries.

Navalny, who gained global notoriety as a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, has resisted repeated attempts by the Kremlin to silence him through physical violence, arrests and imprisonment in an isolated penal colony in the Arctic, where he died in February, at age 47.

The book, telling his story in his own words, is a final show of defiance, his widow, Yulia Navalnaya, said in a statement, and could have a galvanizing effect on his supporters.

“This book bears witness not only to Alexei’s life, but also to his unwavering commitment to the fight against dictatorship – a fight for which he gave everything, including his life,” Navalnaya said. “Through its pages, readers will come to know the man I loved deeply – a man of deep integrity and unwavering courage. Sharing his story will not only honor his memory, but also inspire others to stand up for what is right and never lose sight of the values ​​that truly matter.

In a press release, Knopf said the memoir “expresses Navalny’s complete conviction that change cannot be resisted and will come.”

Navalny wrote the entire memoir himself, dictating parts, and Yulia Navalnaya is working with the publisher to edit and finalize the manuscript, according to a Knopf representative. A Russian-language edition of the book will be available, the representative said.

The project is a more sensitive undertaking than most memoirs by high-profile political figures. Supporters of Navalny and his team, which has continued its work, continue to attract the attention of Russian authorities as they direct criticism at the Kremlin against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.

Navalny began working on his memoir in 2020, after surviving a near-fatal poisoning with a nerve agent, an attack that Western intelligence officials considered a state-sponsored assassination attempt. The book covers his early life, his rise as a political activist, his marriage and family, his political career as an opposition leader, as well as the attempts on his life and attacks on those close to him, according to the publisher .

Navalny had political aspirations, but was unable to run for president following his fraud conviction by a Russian court, widely seen as politically motivated. He exerted his political influence in other ways: by organizing protests against Putin and building offices and investigative teams across the country to uncover corruption.

Navalny wrote much of his memoir while he was in Germany and recovering from a poisoning. In February 2021, he returned to Russia, knowing he would likely be arrested or attacked again. He was arrested at the airport and then charged with embezzlement and fraud in a trial that international observers said was also politically motivated. In August 2023, he was accused of “extremism” and sentenced to 19 years in prison. His harsh treatment in harsh Russian penal colonies included lack of medical care and numerous stays in solitary confinement.

Explaining why he chose to return to Russia to risk almost certain imprisonment and possible death, Navalny said remaining in exile felt like a betrayal of his cause.

“I don’t want to abandon my country or my beliefs,” Navalny wrote in a Facebook post in January, shortly before his death. “I can betray neither the first nor the second. If your beliefs are worth anything, you must be prepared to defend them. And if necessary, make some sacrifices.

Navalny’s return to Russia sparked weeks of protests across the country, but they were ultimately put down by a fierce crackdown by the Kremlin. Even as Russia shut down or chased away independent news media and silenced many of its internal critics in an effort to stifle political opposition, Navalny remained a vocal and influential figure who became the embodiment of the movement country’s beleaguered pro-democracy movement.

Navalny maintained a social media presence even behind bars and remained a fierce critic of Putin. His team, who lived and worked in exile, continued to publish articles on corruption in Russia. He also continued work on the book, which includes previously unpublished correspondence from the prison, according to the publisher.

In Russia, thousands of his supporters gathered for his funeral, despite the risk of arrest by Russian authorities. Outside the church in the Moscow suburbs where the service was held, people in the crowd chanted phrases such as “Love is stronger than fear” and “Thank you, Alexei.”

Even after his death, those who seek to continue Navalny’s work and expand his legacy face threats and attacks. Last month, Leonid Volkov, who was one of Navalny’s main organizers, was attacked with a hammer and tear gas outside his home in the Lithuanian capital.

Navalny was well aware that his activism put him in danger, but he remained cheerfully provocative, with a wry, prankish personality that helped fuel some of his viral online activism.

“I try not to think about it too much,” he said in a 2017 interview with CBS News. “If you start thinking about what kind of risks I pose, there’s nothing you can do.”

News Source : www.nytimes.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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