Innovation & Future “We will continue our work”

“We will continue our work”

Die russische Oppositionelle Julia Nawalnaja, Leitfigur des Widerstands gegen Präsident Wladimir Putin, hat den „Freiheitspreis der Medien“ auf dem Ludwig-Erhard-Gipfel am Tegernsee erhalten. Wir dokumentieren ihre Dankesrede:

Dear Mr. Merz, dear ladies and gentlemen!

It is a great honor for me to receive this “Freedom Prize of the Media” today. It is a great honor and a great responsibility, because you are presenting this award to me and to Alexey. Two months ago, Putin killed him in prison. This means I have to keep up the work for both of us. I’ll keep fighting for media freedom, like Alexey did, and I’ll also bring in something of my own.

I’ve got quite a challenge ahead of me, I must say! AlexeyNavalny was amazing at turning any media into free media. Even when there was a lot of censorship and no freedom, he found ways to let the truth shine through all the lies. He was always coming up with something new. From a small NGO that focused on anti-corruption investigations, he built a big media operation.

Let me tell you two numbers. Last month, Navalny’s team’s media had nineteen million unique viewers, listeners, and readers — vast majority of them were in Russia. Over the two years since Putin’s war against Ukraine began, our videos have been watched over one and a half billion times. We can do all this because people donate money to support us, and our organization works hard, even though the Kremlin tries to stop us all this time.

We will do everything possible to continue this work. We want Russians who stand against Putin and the war to have access to uncensored information they can trust and share. We hope this will help resistance to the regime grow and weaken the poison of propaganda. The Kremlin will come up with new tools of censorship, disinformation, and lies. So we have to think outside the box to continue sharing the truth under any circumstances, just as Alexey always did.

Why does this matter so much? Let me explain it with an example. For twenty five years, Putin’s propaganda has been telling Russians that Europe is bad. They say it’s falling apart, it’s poor, and it’s not worth going there. They keep repeating this message non-stop on TV every day.

But here is a surprising thing: Russians don’t quickly believe this nonsense. Independent polls show that two-thirds of our people believe that Russia should get closer to Europe. They want to rebuild connections in economy, culture, and science. Despite the brainwashing, the majority of Russians consider themselves Europeans. Putin’s propaganda has failed to prove that Russia does not belong to Europe. I believe our work has made a significant contribution to this.

When we talk about a Beautiful Russia of the Future, the one Alexey Navalny dreamed of, we envision a country built on the rule of law. A country that avoids engaging in conflicts with others. A typical European nation that cooperates and trades with other European countries.

“All of this is just fantasy,” you might say. “How can we believe in it when we see what’s happening in Putin’s Russia?” you might ask. But here we are at the Ludwig Erhard conference together. Look up, and you’ll see his portrait. And it will seem like he’s looking at you disapprovingly! Because Ludwig Erhard proved one simple thing: nothing is impossible to change. If you work hard and believe in the people of your country, you can turn a terrible dictatorship and moral disaster into a normal and successful European country. And you can do it much faster than anyone thought.

In this room, there are lots of business leaders from Germany and Europe. Many of you used to work in Russia. When Putin started a war some had to stop and they lost a lot of money. And now some no longer believe that the world will ever be normal again. But they are wrong. On the path to a normal European future for Russia, and on the path to peace and prosperity in Europe, stands just one person — Vladimir Putin.

He’s holding on tightly, but it won’t last forever. That’s why we will continue our work. We’ll find new ways to bypass censorship and keep Russians updated with the truth.

We’ll convince even more people to support the European path of Russia. Right now, the voices of millions of people are being silenced by repression and fear. But if things change just a bit, their voices will be heard loudly. Russia will become a completely different country and surprise everyone with how quickly these changes happen. Similar to how Ludwig Erhard’s economic miracle amazed Europe 70 years ago.

We just need to keep fighting and not give up. And we will keep doing so. Your support, along with this award, gives us the strength to continue following the path my husband dedicated himself to and sacrificed for.

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