This film follows the extraordinary campaign of a man risking his freedom, his family and his life, to fight for justice, democracy and a country free from corruption.
The film draws on a huge range of material to tell the twin stories of the poisoning and Navalny’s emergence as a significant opposition figure. Navalny is represented through his own videos and extensive interviews he gave before his imprisonment.
Witnesses to the events of August last year include Ksenia Fadeeva and Andrei Fateev, the young activists in Omsk who were with Navalny in the hours leading up to the poisoning. On board the plane itself was a lawyer called Ilya Ageev, who saw Navalny carried off in agony after the emergency landing in Tomsk. As attention turned to the reasons for his illness, we hear from Navalny’s personal doctor, Anastasia Vassilieva, who flew to Tomsk to support him and witnessed the foot-dragging and lying by officials who were reluctant to let him leave. One of the inventors of Novichok, Vladimir Uglev, describes his work on the poison and how he knew instantly that it was the cause of Navalny’s collapse. We hear from previous poisoning victim, Vladimir Kara-Murza about his own poisoning. Kara-Murza, a close friend of Navalny, describes how he himself was poisoned on two separate occasions. The German medical team recount the obstacles facing the evacuation. And once in Germany, Navalny’s personal trainer tells us how the activist’s arrival turned life upside down in the small Black Forest hamlet that was chosen for his rehabilitation.
As Navalny recuperated in Germany, the investigative journalists Christo Grozev and Roman Dobrokhotov begin piecing together the clues that would reveal the identities of the men who had poisoned him.
The story of Navalny’s rise is told through interviews with other opposition figures and personal friends. Masha Gaidar recalls meeting him in the early 2000s, when the Russian opposition was at its lowest ebb. A new generation of activists was nurtured at informal gatherings at the home of Evgenia Albats, who took Navalny under her wing. The young activist Ilya Yashin talks about the seismic shift that happened when Putin announced his plans to return to the presidency in 2011 and how Navalny’s personal charisma and prescient use of social media propelled him to the de facto leadership of the protest movement.
The brief optimism of 2011/2012 soon darkens as the Kremlin cracks down on dissent, arrests its opponents, and rides a wave of nationalist fervour following the invasion of Crimea in 2014. Analysts Shaun Walker and Arkady Ostrovsky present the overview of this period. Zhanna Nemtsova, another friend of Navalny, describes its darkest moment: the assassination of her father, Boris Nemtsov.
1 x 83-minutes (1 x 47-minute version also available)