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Navalny’s Wife Vows to Continue Opposition Leader’s Mission

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Yulia Navalnaya Pledges to Carry On Aleksei Navalny’s Work

The death of Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny has left a void in the decimated Russian opposition movement, raising questions about who could potentially fill his shoes and continue the fight against President Vladimir V. Putin’s autocratic rule. On Monday, Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, made her first public appearance since her husband’s death, signaling that she is ready to take on the responsibility of carrying on his work and challenging the Putin regime.

In a nearly nine-minute video released on Monday, Yulia Navalnaya, 47, addressed her husband’s followers, urging them to continue fighting for their country. She expressed her determination to continue the work of Aleksei Navalny and called on his supporters to stand beside her in their fight against the current regime. Despite initially shunning the spotlight and expressing reluctance about entering politics, Navalnaya has now stepped forward to assume a leadership role in the fractured pro-democracy movement against Putin.

The challenges and dangers that Navalnaya faces as she attempts to fill her husband’s mantle are significant. With Mr. Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation disbanded in Russia and much of his leadership exiled, jailed, or deceased, Navalnaya’s role in leading the movement from outside Russia presents significant obstacles. Additionally, much of Mr. Navalny’s appeal to his followers was personal, making it a tough act to follow.

Navalnaya’s resolve in continuing the fight was evident in her impassioned plea to his followers, where she voiced her deep resentment towards the Russian government for allegedly killing her husband. She echoed President Biden’s stance, blaming Putin for her husband’s death and suggesting that Mr. Navalny’s team is investigating the circumstances surrounding it.

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In her address, Navalnaya emphasized the need for unity and strength within the movement, calling on her husband’s followers to honor his memory by maintaining their commitment to fighting against the oppressive regime. She expressed her desire to see their two children live in a free Russia and vowed to help build a country that her late husband had believed in.

A key concern surrounding Mr. Navalny’s death centers on access to his body. Navalny’s aides continue to demand access to his body, raising questions about the cause of his death. Russian investigators have extended the investigation into his death, hampering efforts by his family and team to lay their loved one to rest and find closure.

Despite the obstacles and challenges that lie ahead, Navalnaya’s resolve shows that she is ready to continue her husband’s work and is committed to fighting for the future of Russia. Her rallying cry to his supporters to stand beside her and continue the fight demonstrates a newfound determination and strength that highlights her readiness to take on this daunting challenge.

As the movement grapples with the aftermath of Navalny’s death, Yulia Navalnaya’s emergence as a figure willing to carry on her husband’s legacy offers a glimmer of hope for those fighting for democracy in Russia. Her willingness to step up and continue the work of her late husband, amid increasing challenges and dangers, signals a new chapter in the struggle against Putin’s regime.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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