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Yulia Navalnaya, Widow of Martyred Russian Human Rights Advocate Alexei Navalny, to Receive the 2024 Athenagoras Human Rights Award

With the blessings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the approval of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (AEP) is pleased to announce that the 2024 Athenagoras Human Rights Award will be presented to Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of martyred Russian hero Alexei Navalny and now herself the leader of the Russian opposition. The Award will be presented on Saturday, October 19, 2024 at the AEP’s annual Athenagoras Human Rights Award black-tie banquet at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel in New York City.

In an April 2024 feature on Ms. Navalnaya, Time Magazine stated: “She accused Vladimir Putin of killing her husband, and she implored the Russian people to help her get revenge. Along the way…Navalnaya took on a role she had never occupied before — no longer the first lady of the Russian opposition, but now its figurehead.”

Recognizing Ms. Navalnaya’s tireless efforts to rally the opposition to Vladimir Putin’s tyrannical rule in the face of furious and violent repression, Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, stated: “Yulia Navalnaya is one of the most courageous individuals on the planet. Her painful personal experience of losing her husband because he stood up to a tyrant is a vivid illustration of the human cost of authoritarian rule and the denial of basic freedoms. Yet at tremendous cost and amid considerable personal risk, Ms. Navalnaya has persevered, becoming the conscience of the international community. With a prophetic voice, she has called upon it to show its commitment to freedom and take decisive action against what she has not hesitated to call the criminal regime in Moscow.”

Speaking at the European Parliament on February 28, 2024, Yulia Navalnaya denounced Putin’s “brutal and sneaky war” against Ukraine. Recounting how her husband was tortured in prison for three years and then murdered for opposing Putin, she stated: “The public murder has once again shown everyone that Putin is capable of anything, and that you cannot negotiate with him.” She emphasized that “Putin is the leader of an organized criminal gang. This includes poisoners and assassins, but they’re just puppets. The most important thing is the people close to Putin: his friends, associates, and keepers of the mafia’s money. You, and all of us, must fight this criminal gang.”

Navalnaya concluded: “My husband will never see what the Beautiful Russia of the Future will look like, but we must see it. And I will do my best to make his dream come true, the evil will fall and the beautiful future will come.” 

In 2020, the Russian writer Dmitry Bykov said that she “faces circumstances stronger than her, but some miracle helps her to defeat the world’s evil.”

With the vital assistance of Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis, Lieutenant Governor of California and longtime friend of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Archons were able to reach out to Ms. Navalnaya overseas and extend the invitation to her to receive the Award.

Established in 1986, the Athenagoras Human Rights Award is given in honor of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, who served as Archbishop of the Americas for 18 years before being elected Ecumenical Patriarch in 1948. He was universally acknowledged as a visionary leader and worked for peace among Churches and people throughout his life.

Previous recipients include the Prince’s Trust (now the King’s Trust), an international youth charity founded by King Charles III while he was Prince of Wales; His Beatitude Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa; His Beatitude Epiphaniy, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine; President Joseph Biden (when he was vice president); former President Jimmy Carter; former President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush; Nobel Laureate and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev; Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel; Mother Theresa of Calcutta; and the scientists who developed COVID vaccines and treatments. View a list of previous recipients.

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