Formerly an atheist, Alexey Navalny said that he came to faith upon his return to Moscow in January 2021, after being treated in Germany for poisoning by the nerve agent Novichok.
Alexey Navalny had his 45th birthday in prison, on June 4, 2021. Family and friends were unable to celebrate the day with him.
Here are excerpts from his “birthday blog”:
In my annual birthday posts, I always express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who surrounds me and supports me, above all to my family.
But this time I want to share how I am feeling. I have been wondering if I should write this or not. I decided to write.
In the past year, many unbelievable things have happened:
I was poisoned. I was at death’s door on the plane. I was given more time to live.
I learned to walk and talk all over again. The assassination attempt on my life was revealed. I was able to speak with those who had been sent to murder me. Then there was my return flight home from Germany and my arrest at the Moscow airport. There was a mock trial and was sent to a prison reminiscent of a concentration camp. I got sick. Hospital care was denied. And then I was on a hunger strike.
I noticed how I was observing myself. I really don’t want to become a beast. Surely you understand, that these kinds of events contribute to a person changing as they become the hunted, likened to a wolf, into a person who hates everyone and dreams of destroying their enemies and sending them to prison.
When you fall asleep, you no longer count sheep but instead count those who I would hang the first week after coming to power.
These are the feelings I have been having and honestly confess being afraid, that these feelings would become part of who I am.
In actuality, my plans were completely contrary to this: I want to show love to those who suffer at the hands of injustice and to understand all people a little more.
I have not compromised in my attitude. The fight against corruption and the prosecution of wrongdoers have always been at my core and motive for my work.
While Alexey was in pretrial detention, he was comforted by the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (seen as ‘truth’ in Russian translation) for they will be filled”.
Now as I encounter a person of whom I am thinking, “You are a ruthless criminal”, I try to understand this person, to forgive and even love him a little. It’s not easy, but I am doing my best. As it is written: “If you only greet your friends, what are you doing more than others?” (Matt 5:47, Editors note)
I receive a lot of encouraging emails and think people are so good, how can we not love them? You are my support in this situation.
So, thanks to all of you, a hug to all.
As for spending my birthday in my prison cell, it’s a nonsensical reality. One day when this ‘spaceship’ arrives at its destination – then all the celebrations I have missed will be celebrated.