Navalny and the Protests: Some Clarification

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Navalny and the Protests: Some Clarification

Karine Clément

Who is Alexei Navalny? We now hear nothing but good things said about him in the West, and the enthusiasm should probably be tempered. I personally have never been a fan of Navalny. At the same time, the guts he showed in returning to Russia when he knew he was threatened both physically and legally unmistakably raises him to the level of a modern hero.

Navalny has just been sentenced to two years and 8 months in prison for a spurious reason, having broken the rules of his judicial review since… he was in Germany on authorization from the Kremlin to seek... treatment after the attempted assassination of which he had been the victim in Russia… An absurd story, but absurdity is now the favourite style of the Kremlin, making politics an absurdity.

I remember him fighting alongside the inhabitants of Moscow against real estate constructions threatening their environment, alongside the inhabitants of Khimki to save their forest from a highway construction project led by Vinci (the French are everywhere). I also remember him in the nationalist “Russian Marches” (under the slogan “Russia for the Russians”) of the second half of the 2000s and in debates (with me also) on immigration, which he at that time made an objective of struggle (especially against illegal immigration, but also for increased control).

His popularity took off with the 2011–12 mobilizations against fraud in the presidential elections, and especially thanks to his videos denouncing the corruption and illegal enrichment of the highest leaders of the state, which gave rise to demonstrations in 2016–17. But at that time, still, he remained little known to most people. He was mostly seen as one of the many “politicos” who try to build a career by fooling people (according to the classic perception of “dirty politics”).

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