Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Friday, February 16, 2024

Journey of a Free Soul

(FYI:Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said Monday she would take up her husband’s work and fight for their country and against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a video posted on her husband’s YouTube channel, Navalnaya asked her husband’s followers to join her in taking up his fight and honoring his legacy.

This 9-minute video is titled “I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny,” and the description reads, “An appeal by Yulia Navalnaya. Alexei’s work will continue. The fight for a free Russia will not stop.”

By killing Alexei, Putin killed half of me, half of my heart and my soul. But I still have the other half, and it tells me that I have no right to give up...

But Putin also took Navalny away from you, where in a colony in the Far North, beyond the Arctic Circle, in eternal winter, Putin killed not just a man, Alexei Navalny, but together with him he wanted to kill our hopes, our freedom, our future...

I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny. Continue to fight for our country. And I invite you to stand next to me. To share not only the grief and endless pain that envelops us and does not let go. I ask you to share my rage. Rage and anger towards those who dared to kill our future. I address you with the words of Alexei, in which I believe. It’s not a shame to do little, it’s a shame to do nothing. It’s a shame to let yourself be intimidated.)

first Magical Realist tanka set
written in memory of Putin's most vociferous critic Alexei Navalny, whose death was announced by the Russian prison agency this morning

a penal colony
above the Arctic Circle ...
beside his own lifeless body
whispers, don't give up

his last words
echo through Arctic jail cells
down to the ears
of passersby on Red Square ...
candles in windows light the Way

FYI: BBC News, Feb. 16: Putin critic Alexei Navalny, 47, dies in Arctic Circle jail

Seen as President Vladimir Putin's most vociferous critic, Navalny was serving a 19-year jail term on charges widely considered politically motivated.

He was moved to one of Russia's toughest penal colonies late last year.

Most of the Russian president's critics have fled Russia, but Alexei Navalny returned in January 2021, after months of medical treatment. In August 2020 he was poisoned at the end of a trip to Siberia with a Novichok nerve agent.

His last Instagram post to his wife two days ago said there were thousands of kilometres between them "but I feel that you are near every second". He leaves two children, Dasha, who is studying in the US and Zakhar, who is still at school.

The Hill, Jan.16: Navalny in final message: "You’re not allowed to give up"

Prompted at the end of the Oscar-winning documentary “Navalny" to deliver a message to his Russian supporters, Navalny said, “If they decided to kill me, then it means we are incredibly strong.

We need to utilize this power to not give up, to remember we are a huge power that is being oppressed by these bad dudes. We don’t realize how strong we actually are. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing, so don’t be inactive,” he says with a stern look before flashing a smile at the end of the film.

And for more about magical realism, see To the Lighthouse: Magical Realism in Times of Crises