Yulia Navalnaya meets French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron and Yulia Navalnaya at the Élysée Palace, Paris, France, 31 May 2024. Photo: X

French President Emmanuel Macron and Yulia Navalnaya at the Élysée Palace, Paris, France, 31 May 2024. Photo: X

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of the late Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday, the Élysée Palace said in a statement.

During the meeting, Macron expressed his condolences to Navalnaya for her husband’s “unjustifiable” death in an Arctic penal colony in February and paid tribute to the “courage with which he led his life during his fights against corruption and for freedom of expression”, the Élysée said.

The pair also discussed the continuing work of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which was founded by Navalny, the statement continued, with Macron “reaffirming France's support for all those who defend human rights”.

Posting a photograph of herself and Macron, Navalnaya said that they had discussed “how France can help civil society in Russia and beyond in the fight against Putin and his dictatorship”, adding that she was grateful to Macron “for understanding that there are many people in Russia who are against the war”.

Navalnaya has met with numerous Western leaders since pledging to continue her late husband’s work in February, including US President Joe Biden. She has also addressed the European Parliament.

On Tuesday, she met with Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski, who affirmed Poland’s support for “Russian civil society, independent journalists, and individuals who share democratic values and oppose Russia's unjustified and brutal aggression against Ukraine”.

Navalnaya is the second high-profile Russian opposition figure to meet with Macron in recent months, with Novaya Gazeta founder and Nobel Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov having met the French leader in Paris in April.

On Tuesday, Macron voiced his support for the growing consensus within NATO that Ukraine should be allowed to use Western weapons to strike military targets in Russia, saying that to deny Ukraine such an opportunity was tantamount to its allies telling Kyiv “we are delivering you weapons, but you cannot defend yourselves”.

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