Dasha Navalnaya, the daughter of jailed Russian dissident Alexey Navalny, has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine and to release her father and political prisoners in the country.
“We will not stop fighting” unless “this incredibly unnecessary and terrible invasion of Ukraine” ends, she told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Friday.
Her father Navalny – an outspoken critic of the Kremlin and its war in Ukraine – is currently serving a nine-year jail term at a maximum-security prison east of Moscow after being convicted of large-scale fraud by a Russian court last year.
She also described concerns about her father’s prison conditions, saying that her family has had limited access to Navalny and that his attorneys are only able to see him “through a guarded veil.”
“So we can’t really know for sure his health circumstance and he hasn’t seen his family in over half a year,” she said. “I haven’t seen him in person in over a year and it’s quite concerning considering his health is getting worse and worse.”
Concerns about Navalny’s health have persisted for months. Navalny himself has tweeted about difficult conditions in confinement, saying in November that he had been isolated from other prisoners in what he described as a move designed to “shut me up.” Inmates in Russian penal colonies are typically housed in barracks rather than cells, according to a report by Poland-based think tank the Center for Eastern Studies (OSW).
The “real indescribable bestiality” of his incarceration, however, was limitations on visits with family, he said at the time.
Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020, an attack several Western officials and Navalny himself openly blamed on the Kremlin. Russia has denied any involvement.
After a five-month stay in Germany recovering from the Novichok poisoning, Navalny returned to Moscow, where he was immediately arrested for violating probation terms imposed from a 2014 embezzlement case that he said was politically motivated. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years for those charges.
His poisoning and subsequent legal problems drew intense interest from the Russian public and abroad. Russia witnessed large-scale anti-government protests in towns and cities across the country after his arrest, with authorities detaining around 11,000 demonstrators within a few weeks.
While serving his sentence, Navalny was in March 2022 handed nine years in a maximum-security jail, according to Russian state-owned news agency TASS, after being convicted on fraud charges by Moscow’s Lefortovo court over allegations that he stole from his Anti-Corruption Foundation.
He was transferred from a penal colony in Pokrov to a maximum-security prison in Melekhovo in Russia’s Vladimir Region in June last year. From prison, Navalny has nevertheless vociferously denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine via social media, advocating anti-war protests across the country as “the backbone of the movement against war and death.”
In a tweet thread about his prison conditions last year, he vowed to continue speaking out.
“So what’s my first duty? That’s right, to not be afraid and not shut up,” he wrote, urging others to do the same. “At every opportunity, campaign against the war, Putin and United Russia. Hugs to you all.”