“Navalny,” which tells the story of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, contained elements of “politicization,” the spokesperson of Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed after the HBO-produced movie was named the best documentary feature film at Sunday’s Academy Awards.
“Although I didn’t watch it, I dare to assume that there is a certain element of politicization of the topic here,” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s presidential press secretary, told media following the documentary’s Oscar win, Russia-based news agency Interfax reported.
“Hollywood also sometimes does not disdain the topic of politicizing its work, it happens. I can’t talk about any cinematic merits of this tape, because I’m not familiar with it,” he added.
Navalny’s eponymous feature, which was directed by Canadian documentary filmmaker Daniel Roher, follows an investigation conducted by the jailed Putin critic’s team together with the Netherlands-based fact-checking group Bellingcat, The Guardian reported.
The investigation unmasked agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service, more popularly known as the FSB, who were sent to poison Navalny in August 2020 — an assassination attempt that the Russian government has denied being involved in.
Roher accepted his work’s accolade at the 95th Academy Awards by dedicating it to Navalny, who is currently serving an 11-and-a-half-year sentence on charges of fraud and contempt of court, as well as to all political prisoners around the world.
“Alexei Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition, remains in solitary confinement for what he calls – I want to make sure we get his words exactly right – ‘Vladimir Putin’s unjust war of aggression in Ukraine,'” Roher said.
“Alexei, the world has not forgotten your vital message to us all: we must not be afraid to oppose dictators and authoritarianism wherever it rears its head,” he added.
Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, joined the director on the stage and said that her husband “is in prison just for telling the truth” and “for defending democracy.”
Russian media either ignored or condemned “Navalny’s” win, The Moscow Times reported.
Government-run channels such as Rossiya-24, Channel One and NTV supposedly stuck to usual programming the morning after the award ceremony that was held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
The Federal News Agency, reportedly a rebranded Russian “troll factory” associated with oligarch and known Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed that “the Anglo-Saxons are attempting to turn Russian blogger Alexei Navalny… into a martyr.”
Meanwhile, the radio service of Russia’s state-owned outlet Sputnik published a piece that featured film critic Andrey Dementiev calling “Navalny’s” win “nothing more than an anti-Russian gesture.”
At the same time Russian media seemed to have snubbed “Navalny’s” win, the people of Malaysia celebrated Michelle Yeoh’s best actress win at the Oscars, with the 60-year-old “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star even being dubbed the “pride of Malaysia” and an “inspiration to all women and Malaysians,” Al Jazeera reported.
“Navalny” premiered in January 2022 at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and the Festival Favorite Award in the U.S. documentary competition.
It was also named best documentary at the recent British Academy Film Awards.