NEW YORK (HPD) — Dancer, choreographer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov, who defected from the Soviet Union nearly half a century ago, called Alexei Navalny “incredibly brave” as a human rights group awarded the leader its annual award. Russian opponent, who is imprisoned.
The Train Foundation York presented Navalny with the 2022 Civil Courage Award in absentia, at a ceremony at New York University (NYU).
Baryshnikov, 74, who is also a human rights activist, said Navalny’s mission is to “advance a more democratic vision for Russia.”
Baryshnikov left the Soviet Union and defected in 1974 while on tour with the Russian Ballet Company in Canada. The following year he moved to the United States.
The New York-based Train Foundation praised Navalny for his “historic work for freedom and transparency in Russia.”
The award was accepted by two of Navalny’s colleagues. One of them, Leonid Volkov, said the dissident “shows his courage on a daily basis” by being confined to a 2-by-3-meter (7-by-11-foot) cell in a Russian prison.
“Every day is an exercise in civil courage,” Volkov said at the ceremony.
Russian authorities have launched several criminal cases against Navalny, raising suspicions that the Kremlin intends to keep the opposition leader jailed indefinitely.
Navalny reported last week on social media that Russian authorities are now investigating him on suspicion of spreading terrorism and encouraging and financing extremist actions.
Such charges could keep Navalny in jail for 30 years. Also last week, a court rejected his second appeal of a nine-year prison sentence for fraud and contempt of court.
Navalny was arrested in January 2021 upon returning from Germany, where he was recovering from an attempted poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities deny involvement.