The Sakharov Prize ceremony, awarded to Alexei Navalny, was held in the European Parliament today. Instead, his daughter Daria received the award.
Below is the text of her speech and video of her speech.
“Hello. Thank you so much, it’s really incredible.
Before I start my speech, I just wanted to say: I am incredibly grateful that I accept this award for my father, and at the same time I am very scared. I am honored to be here today in front of you, and as a 20-year-old student who knows little about politics, I am worried about ruining everything.
When I heard that my father, Alexei Navalny, was presented with this high award, I was terribly happy for two reasons. The first reason: this is a great honor, recognition of his merits and high appreciation of the work that he and his colleagues have done and continue to do. And most importantly, it is a signal of support to those tens of millions of citizens of my country who wish for a better fate for Russia and are fighting for it.
I’ll also name the second reason, although it’s a little awkward. Hmm … my father receives an award from the European Parliament and when you receive it you have a unique opportunity to speak before the European Parliament, but, unfortunately, for an obvious reason, my father cannot come, so … it seems that someone can run for tickets to Strasbourg!
And then I realized that it’s cool to come here, of course, but this is probably the nightmare of my family and mine personally. I travel to various events on behalf of my father. Sometimes he is even rewarded with something. I receive an award. I’m preparing a speech. And I start it with an obligatory joke … And he is in prison. And I continue to drive and on the road read another article about the monstrous conditions in which he sits. Well, nothing can be done about it. I go and perform. And he continues to sit.
And this applies not only to Alexei Navalny. Where are the laureates of last year’s prize – the Belarusian opposition now? In prisons, for the most part. Where is the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo now? He died in prison.
And here I ask myself the question: why is it so difficult to rescue those who defend human rights from bondage? Why do they continue to be thrown into prisons not just around the world, but even in European, geographically European countries in the 21st century?
Europe is great and powerful. The will of the inhabitants of Europe is expressed in the resolutions of the MEPs. And these are precise, correct, honest resolutions. They are supported by the USA and Great Britain. And Australia, New Zealand and the entire free world.
But they – like my father – continue to sit in prisons, where more and more of their comrades-in-arms are thrown.
You know, I have heard this many times and I am sure I will hear it again. Even on the sidelines of this session.
“You know, Dasha,” they will tell me. “We understand your emotions, because this is about your family. But in the real world, we have to act pragmatically. “
And there, on the sidelines of the meeting, I nod and say: “Yes, yes, of course.” Well, what can I say ?! As a 20-year-old student, I am not comfortable arguing with experienced and responsible pragmatists.
Well, at least here, using the fact that I have the microphone, no one will take it away and no need to argue with anyone personally, feeling impolite, to oppose this pragmatism. After all, this is the Sakharov Prize. And Andrei Sakharov was, apparently, one of the most pragmatic people on the planet.
I do not understand why those who advocate pragmatic relations with dictators cannot simply open the history books. That would be a very pragmatic move, and once done, it’s easy to grasp an immutable political law: pacifying dictators and tyrants never works.
No matter how many people deceive themselves, hoping that another madman who has seized power will behave decently in response to concessions and flirting, this will never happen. The very essence of authoritarian power presupposes a constant increase in rates, an increase in aggression and the search for new enemies.
And those who once said: “Let’s not push Lukashenka away and continue the dialogue,” – at the moment when he beat people and threw them into prisons, they only achieved that now, in order to jail someone, he kidnaps him along with a passenger plane.
Another thing that for some reason pragmatists who call to remember about costs and economic losses really do not want to do is just pick up a calculator and calculate how much their pragmatism costs, in particular, to European taxpayers.
Years of flirting with Putin made him understand that a war could be started in order to grow his rating.
How much will the war with Ukraine cost Europe? Even now, after a huge amount of news about Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, no one really reacts. No amount of pragmatic trade cooperation will pay off even a fraction of the direct costs incurred. Not to mention the cost of the time that Western politicians have already had and will still have to spend on solving this problem instead of dealing with the affairs of their countries.
One of the opposition leaders, Boris Nemtsov, is being shot in the back right outside the Kremlin. And then a pragmatist appears, throws up his hands and says: “Well, nothing can be done. Let’s confine ourselves to a tough statement, and then we will continue the dialogue. “
And then they kill the second and third. And the fourth is killed in the center of Berlin. And the fifth – in the UK. And then some warehouses in Europe are also blown up. And then they kill with chemical weapons. And what we know is only failed assassination attempts. And how many were successful? We all already know for sure that a real terrorist group has been created within Putin’s special services. Killing the citizens of my country without trial or investigation. No justice. They almost killed my mother, they almost killed my father, and no one can guarantee that tomorrow European politicians will not fall dead holding the doorknob.
And now you are already increasing the police budget. You give out a lot of money to the special services. Spend billions on new ways to detect toxic substances. And these are the consequences of such pragmatism.
“You don’t have to squeeze, you have to be careful not to piss them off,” says the pragmatist. And tomorrow, dictators, inspired by the half-measures of the West, are simply taking thousands of people to the border of the European Union, forcing women and children to storm fences, voluptuously dreaming of someone being shot or trampled in the crowd.
Let the pragmatists answer how much it will cost Poland, Lithuania or the entire European Union.
They will also answer me: what do you want? These are sovereign countries with their own governments. Our options are limited. Or are you suggesting starting a nuclear war to free political prisoners?
Of course, I do not propose to start a war. However, I will note that, although without much success, it is already underway, and there are real sacrifices in it. And it uses both cyber weapons and chemical weapons. The fact that European banks are free to launder the corruption billions of Putin and his friends, that the yachts of Putin’s oligarchs continue to make a splash in the European Mediterranean, or that 99% of top officials in Russia and Belarus directly involved in crimes can continue to travel without hindrance. Europe, like their families, is a sure sign that many of those who make decisions are not even trying to win even a small battle in this war. They talk and think too much about “realpolitik”, contemplating actions based on ideas and principles that are naive and stupid.
And you know what. It seems to me that the problem is that the desire to pacify the dictator again and again, not to anger him, to try not to notice his crimes as long as possible is not a pragmatic approach. Now is the time to put it bluntly. Under the guise of pragmatism, there is cynicism, hypocrisy and corruption.
The struggle between idealism and pragmatism is always going on. This is a fierce battle in European politics as well. But even choosing the side of pragmatism should not mean betraying one’s ideas.
When I wrote to my father a question: “What do you want me to say before the European Parliament?” He replied: “Tell me that no one dares to equate Russia and the Putin regime. Russia is a part of Europe, and we strive to become a part of it. But we want Europe itself to strive for itself. To those amazing principles that are laid in its foundation. We strive to a Europe of ideas, the triumph of human rights, democracy and dignity, but we do not want to go to Europe of chancellors and ministers who dream of getting a job on the board of directors of Putin’s state-owned companies or sailing on an oligarch’s yacht. “
Today, here on this stage, receiving a high award for my father, I thank you and in your person I welcome Europe of ideas and principles. The European Union is an amazing miracle that peoples were able to create, whose whole history is in an endless war with each other. Despite all the difficulties and problems encountered on the way of the EU and which will still meet, I believe in its future and believe that my country will one day become a part of it.
We all have a great responsibility, no matter who we are – MEPs or students. We just live in a time when many problems, from the climate to the survival of democracy, will have to be addressed by us.
And at the end of my speech, I want to quote my great compatriot, after whom this award is named.
“Not out of false modesty, but out of a desire to be precise, I will note that my fate turned out to be larger than my personality. I just tried to be at the level of my own destiny. “
I wish that we all had the strength to be at the level of our own destiny.
Freedom for Alexei Navalny! “