By Athena Papakosta

Yulia Navalnaya remained until the age of 47 faithful to the roles she had chosen to take on. That of the wife and that of the mother. She rejected the role of politician. However, in the 24 hours that have followed the death of Alexei Navalny, Yulia Navalnaya is emerging as the new thorn in the Kremlin’s side.

“I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny… I want to live in a free Russia. I want to build a free Russia,” Navalny announced in a nine-minute video message to Navalny’s supporters and the Kremlin.

Dressed in black with her blonde hair tied back, Yulia Navalnaya looked resolutely at the camera and as she spoke she called for the defeat of those who deprived her of her husband, the father of their two children, the man – whom she said – she loved more than anything in this world .

Navalny accuses the Russian authorities of hiding her husband’s body in order to eliminate from his body the traces of the nerve agent Novichok, with which they poisoned him and, of course, insists on accusing the Russian president himself of killing Navalny.

“By killing Alexei” Putin “killed half of myself, half of my heart, half of my soul”, he said to continue emphasizing that “but I still have the other half and that tells me that I have no right to give up”.

Navalny is all alone but, at the same time, she has the West with her, united on her side, and many – inside and outside Russia – who see her as the natural successor to her husband, who has been Moscow’s fiercest and most famous critic.

“I am appealing to you to stand by my side. Not only to share my mourning and my endless pain… I ask you to share my rage… my anger, my anger, my hatred for all those who dare to kill our future” she pointed out with her voice cracking but her gaze remaining fixed on the camera.

For years, Navalnaya kept a low profile and avoided publicity as she rarely gave interviews to the media. She chose to stay by her husband’s side as he called and led mass protests in Russia. She even managed to fly him out of Russia when he had fallen into a coma after being poisoned and returned with him to Moscow defying all dangers.

“All these years I have stood by Alexei’s side but, today, I want you to stand by my side because I know that you have lost as much as I have,” he said in this regard, yesterday, Monday.

“Yulia is the rock on which Alexei stands,” Vladimir Ashurkov, one of Navalny’s closest aides, declared in Vanity Fair in 2021, with journalist Yevgena Albatz noting that “politician Navalny was two people: Alexei and Julia”.

“I shouldn’t be in this position. I shouldn’t be recording this video myself. Someone else should be here, but that person was murdered by Vladimir Putin,” Navalnaya continued in her video message broadcast shortly before attending the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union. In it he called on the international community not to recognize the upcoming elections in Russia stressing, also, “don’t forget that Russia is not Putin and Putin is not Russia”.

“Vladimir Putin and his regime will be held accountable for the death of Alexei Navalny” said, for his part, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, as international reactions intensify and US President Joe Biden threatens Russia with new sanctions .

It has been five days since the death – under unclear circumstances – of Alexei Navalny. His body has not yet been handed over to his relatives and the authorities deny access to it even to his mother, Ludmila. According to the Kremlin, the investigation is ongoing but, as it says, there are still no results, insisting that it has nothing to do with the death of the leading figure of the extra-parliamentary opposition.

But Yulia Navalnaya said that “we know why Putin killed Navalny” and promised that she would soon reveal the reason.

She herself does not live in Russia but in an unknown location abroad.

She last saw Alexei Navalny before he was arrested.

But he “saved” his last message to the… outside world for her. It was on February 14, Valentine’s Day and in his last post he told her that “I feel you are with me every second and I love you more and more”. Now she promises to continue his work hoping for a free Russia that Navalny tried for but will not be able to see.