Saturday, February 17, 2024

RIP Alexei Navalny: ‘The hero of the new age’

Even behind bars, the dissident leader was a threat to the corrupt Russian dictator.

Alexei Navalny was brave enough to mock Putin’s absurd tyranny. Is it any wonder he is dead?

Alexei Navalny

Protests, poisoning and prison: The life and death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

ABC Russian opposition leader’s death described as political assassination attributable to president

Once a former KGB thug, always a KGB thug is the truth of the not-so-strange death in a Siberian gulag of Russian opposition democracy leader Alexei Navalny.

Once KBG or (KPMG) thug ….

Alexey Navalny: An archenemy Putin wouldn’t name and Kremlin couldn’t scare

Navalny was Putin’s fiercest political opponent, using the street and the internet to expose secret palaces and to galvanise Russians who otherwise saw no alternative to the president.

Sasha: Alexei Navalny life-in-pictures

Death of leading critic is a reminder of Putin’s paranoia

US President Joe Biden on Friday (Saturday AEDT) blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for Alexei Navalny’s death, saying he was “not surprised” but “outraged” by the opposition leader’s passing.

“We don’t know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Nalvany was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did,” Biden said at the White House after Russian prison officials said 

Make no mistake, Putin is responsible’: Biden says of Navalny’s death

Workers paint over graffiti depicting Navalny in St Petersburg. The text reads ‘The hero of the new age’

Why Russia Killed Navalny

The extraordinary courage of Alexei Navalny Activist’s death shows political violence is again a tool of punishment in Russia

In 2020, Alexei Navalny somehow survived being poisoned — almost certainly by Russian security agents — with a military-grade nerve agent. Now, after years of mistreatment in custody, Russia’s prison service says he has died after falling ill in a harsh penal colony inside the Arctic Circle. It was testament to the opposition activist’s exceptional courage that he chose, after being treated for his poisoning in Germany, to return to his homeland despite facing almost certain arrest
Whatever the official cause of his death is said to be — and Navalny, though gaunt, seemed in good spirits in a court hearing a day earlier — foreign leaders are rightly holding the Kremlin responsible. Within the domestic political context it is one of the darkest stains yet on a Putin regime that has left a trail of opponents’ bodies in its wake.
Navalny’s death comes almost nine years after another opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov, was gunned downnear the Kremlin. While Nemtsov was always a liberal, Navalny dabbled in anti-Putin nationalism in his early political years; his initial response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine was ambiguous, though he shifted last year to insist Russia must recognise Ukraine’s 1991 borders.
Adapting his message to focus more on social justice, Navalny became the Kremlin’s chief antagonist through his political activism and work on exposing corruption in Russia’s ruling circle. He offered a glimpse of a different Russia from Vladimir Putin’s venal autocracy. After branding the pro-Kremlin United Russia party the “party of crooks and thieves”, Navalny was a driving force behind protests over rigged parliamentary elections in winter 2011-12.

The videos he presented with his trademark humour attracted a mass audience far beyond those who attend opposition rallies in the capital. His exposé of a billion-dollar Black Sea palace allegedly built for Putin, boasting its own skating rink and casino, has been viewed tens of millions of times.
How nervous the regime was of him is highlighted by how it pursued Navalny’s circle after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. His anti-corruption foundation was declared a “foreign agent” then an “undesirable” organisation. Navalny, already jailed for nine years on bogus fraud charges, was handed a further 19-year term on charges of “extremism”. Many of his associates fled Russia. Several who did not, also ended up behind bars.
However Navalny’s death actually occurred, the Russian authorities are morally responsible; had he not been wrongly jailed he would surely still be alive. It shows how far Putin has dragged Russia back towards the darkest days of the 20th century. After Stalin’s death, political dissidents tended to face prison or internal exile, or being forced out of the country, rather than murder. Now, political violence is again a tool of punishment and intimidation.
The lesson is that no one inside Russia’s modern-day gulag can be considered safe. Foreign capitals must be unrelenting in their pressure on Moscow to release politicians, activists, human rights workers, lawyers and journalists who have been wrongfully imprisoned — including through prisoner swaps. 

Navalny’s wife Yulia, displaying her own extraordinary bravery and dignity, appeared at the Munich Security Conference on Friday within hours of his death being reported. She called on the international community to “come together” to “fight against this evil”. A first priority must be to give Kyiv what it needs to drive Russian forces out of its land, in what might just begin the unravelling of a thuggish regime. But the best way to honour the activist’s memory would be to ensure Putin and his entourage are eventually brought to justice for crimes committed in their own country, and Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine.

Here is a partial list of Putin critics or opponents who have magically died or been targeted over the last few decades: Feb 2024- Navalny (was also poisoned in 2020, but survived) August 2023- Prigozhin (bomb) Sept 2022- Maganov Aug 2019- Khangoshvili (shot in Berlin by FSB agent) Sept 2018- Pyotr Verzilov (poisoned) March 2018- Sergei Skripal and his daughter (poisoned in the UK by FSB) Feb 2015- Boris Nemtsov (shot near the Kremlin) July 2009- Natalya Estemirova Nov 2006- Alex Litvineko (former agent poisoned and killed in London after revealing Putin was behind the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow) Oct 2006- Anna Politkovskaya (murdered in her elevator on Putin’s bday, had previously been arrested and poisoned) July 2003- Yuri Shchekochikhin (poisoned) April 2003- Sergei Yushenkov (shot outside his home) This is only a partial list. It doesn’t include many other rich or influential people that have magically fallen out windows or drown

Pretty much anyone who has ever openly and consistently criticized Putin and associates, and has not fled elsewhere, has been killed. And at least some of those who did escape were also targeted.