When one has a book at hand like Ben Judah’s Fragile Empire, one may have with it a fledgling empire of new and noble nouns, many of which may be researched or accessed online. So it is with Alexei Navalny, among others, who since 2009 “has gained prominence in Russia and in the Russian and international media as a critic of corruption and of Russian President Vladimir Putin” (Wikipedia: “Alexei Navalny”).
In 2008: “Who?”
In 2013: “Navalny!”
Navalny may be Putin’s simplest political litmus test, as one may know where Navalny stands, and why, while the Russian president remains the author of his own script and of the approved manipulated official Russian historic national narrative, and he may yet pivot off the Assad-to-Mugabe course in the art of dictatorship and prove Russia other than an enormous medieval fief for exploiting all the way to ruin.
“Today, a provincial court in the Russian city of Kirov sentenced Aleksey Navalny, the only real leader to emerge among the opposition since the fall of the Soviet Union, to five years in a prison camp, and slapped him with a hefty fine for an embezzlement scheme so convoluted it could only be fiction: He was accused, as he liked to put it, of “stealing a forest.”
Court Rejects Navalny Election Appeal | News | The Moscow Times 9/20/2013: “Navalny’s team argued that the results were illegitimate because of violations including unequal access to media outlets for different candidates, irregularities in home voting, and the buying of votes with gifts paid for with city money.”
From the same article and in the interest of fairness on this page:
“The ruling by Moscow City Court was not unexpected. In the past two weeks, Sobyanin and his powerful Kremlin supporters, among them President Vladimir Putin, have on several occasions praised the election as being one of the most transparent and fair in Russian history, and several observer groups said they did not witness any large-scale voting fraud.”
The “second row seat to history” has yet to prove helpful to me as regards primary journalism — it’s true: there’s nothing like being there, wherever that may be — much less investigative journalism, at least not until I start getting overtures for Skype sessions. As it stands, only local Russian constituents and media have the potential to report “clearly, accurately, and completely” as regards these affairs and to “peel back the onion” — a familiar phrase among accountants and bureaucrats — on what’s bothering them.
Putin foe manages strong showing in Moscow vote – Yahoo News Photo Gallery. 9/8/2013.
The Navalny Case and the Final Battle between Good and Neutrality? | In Moscow’s Shadows 4/13/2013: “He has brought the issue of the corruption elite into the center of Russian politics, and has done more than anyone else to connect that with the United Russia bloc, that bastion of the cynical, the careerist and the corrupt.”
Navalny showed Russians how not to be afraid. The volume of fear—for one’s physical safety, for one’s livelihood, for one’s family—that fills the average Russian mind even today is staggering. It is, in part, a product of Russia’s unfathomably bloody and ruthless history; and in part because today’s system plays on that fear by intimating that quiet ignorance is one’s safest bet, and making an example of those who don’t comply.
Russia Economy: Population, GDP, Inflation, Business, Trade, FDI, Corruption 2013 by The Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Wall Street Journal.
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