In the Weekend Open Thread, Dana mentioned the valentine Alexei Navalny sent to his wife. Speaking of Navalny, the documentary film about him (which I saw when it first came out, and commend to you) is up for an Academy Award. I think those awards are stupid, but when they can bring attention to a film like this, I’ll support that attention.
Meanwhile, the film also won the British Academy Film Award for best documentary. But Christo Grozev, the Bellingcat investigator whose incredible online sleuthing was central to Navalny getting an admission from the people who tried to kill him, was not in attendance. The filmmakers who accepted the award dedicated the award to Grozev:
The filmmakers behind Navalny have dedicated their Bafta documentary award to investigative journalist Christo Grozev.
Bulgarian Mr Grozev, who features in the documentary about Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and events related to his 2020 poisoning, claimed before the ceremony he and his family were not allowed at the event due to being a “security risk”.
At the ceremony, producer Odessa Rae said: “We want to dedicate this award to Christo Grozev, our Bulgarian nerd with a laptop, who could not be with us tonight because his life is under threat by the Russian government and (president) Vladimir Putin.
“I met Christo in the summer of 2020. His life is fairly private then and he gave up everything to tell the story and many other stories that need to be told.”
How sweet. Except, Grozev was not absent because he was scared. He was absent because he was banned by the cowards who ran the awards ceremony. Grozev was not welcome because he posed too much of a danger, as the New York Times reported in advance of the ceremony:
A journalist who investigated the poisoning of the Russian opposition figure Aleksei A. Navalny and was prominently featured in a documentary film about the imprisoned leader said he was “banned” from attending the British Academy Film Awards, where the film was nominated, after being told his presence would represent a security risk to the public.
The journalist, Christo Grozev, is on the Russian Interior Ministry’s “wanted” list, according to the Russian state-run news agency TASS. His reporting on Russia with the open-source investigative group Bellingcat, including into the 2018 Novichok poisonings, has won multiple international press awards.
The more I think about this, the more irritated I become.
The premise of Navalny’s recent life, and thus the underlying theme of the film about him, is his courage. This is a man who willingly flew into Vladimir Putin’s Russia knowing that Putin had tried to have him killed, and that he would be arrested on phony trumped-up charges the moment he set foot on Russian soil. And still he went. Why? Because it was his homeland. Because he had done nothing wrong. Because he was not going to cower in fear and change his behavior based on ridiculous threats of prosecution for non-existent crimes.
This is a man who knew he was walking into the lion’s jaws, but did so anyway. Why? Because it was the right thing to do.
Christo Grozev is a brilliant researcher who, by taking on Putin, has put his own life at risk. He knew the risks and he acted anyway. Why? Because it was the right thing to do.
Now here are a bunch of artsy ponces — from the nation that made famous the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On,” no less — scurrying in fear at a ridiculous non-threat to the safety of an audience at a self-congratulatory event for the glitterati. Grozev, I’m sure, would have had the courage to attend if he were allowed to. And it’s his neck that was truly at risk, not the audience’s.
Imagine. This crowd could have told themselves they had the COURAGE and BACKBONE to attend an event where, somewhere else in a room, a man sat whom Vladimir Putin would like to kill. They could have applauded him as he won a prize, and congratulated themselves on their incredible courage in being willing to sit in the same room, dressed in fancy tuxedos and dresses, with a man whom Putin wanted dead. And they lived to tell the tale! They could have kept friends spellbound for weeks at their tales of personal bravado.
My, my, perhaps they could even have sent Alexei Navalny a letter in prison telling him how brave they were.
But no. It was not to be. These fancy-clad nobility of the film arts remained safe in their seats, and did not have their safety threatened by the presence of the likes of Grozev.
Good for them! I mean, the decision may not have been brave, but it certainly was, I think we can all agree, the very sensible thing to do. Eh wot?
Keep a stiff upper lip, gents!