Navalny Should Be Released 309

Alexei Navalny is not the pleasant liberal our mainstream media paint him to be. Before extensive grooming by the West, he was a racist populist. However, he now makes a more convincing liberal standard bearer than similar proteges like Juan Guaido and to some extent has probably changed with wider experience. He most certainly is not especially popular in Russia, outside some wealthier and younger demographics, but they are voters too, and human progress would not have been great without the much despised middle classes.

I am not in the least convinced by the ludicrous narrative that Vladimir Putin and the FSB were not competent enough to successfully assassinate Alexei Navalny in Russia, including as he lay unconscious in a Russian state hospital. I regard it as a nonsense. But neither do I necessarily suspect that the whole incident was engineered by the West or Navalny (exploited is different to engineered). Incidentally, I am perfectly prepared to accept that the security service outlet Bellingcat was right about the Russian security services following Navalny. I have no doubt whatsoever that they do follow him, and have done so for many years. So what? Western security services followed me intensely when I first became a whistleblower, and on and off ever since, most notably when I have contact with Julian or Wikileaks. The British government announced in Julian’s recent bail hearing it spent £16 million of public money on surveillance of the Ecuadorean Embassy – that’s £16 million on looking at a non-moving target! Security services follow people. There are thousands of the blighters, both in the West and in Russia, and follow people is what many of them do for a living. It is in no sense evidence of assassination. Every time my heart problem puts me in hospital, I don’t imagine it was the MI5 surveillance folks (who must, incidentally, be very bored. When I was younger they did get to look at some great parties).

Anybody who genuinely believes that Putin did not personally authorise the arrest and detention of Navalny on return does not understand Russia. Putin’s purpose is simply to show that he can – that the West cannot protect its protege, which is a good lesson for the next one, and cannot harm Russian interests abroad. In power calculations, Putin is almost always correct. I am fairly sure he is also correct in calculating that swatting Navalny will play well to his popular base, who like the macho thing.

I do not address the technicalities of whether Navalny’s suspended embezzlement sentence was legitimate, and whether he breached suspension conditions, because again if you think that has anything at all to do with what is happening, you are hopelessly naive. Navalny might very well be guilty of embezzlement, but on nothing in the same universe of scale as Putin himself and his inner circle. It is about selectivity of prosecution rather than innocence or guilt. If you have political control of the prosecutor, you hold the cards. Oh sorry, I was drifting back to Scotland.

So Putin can see Navalny jailed till 2025 on the embezzlement charge with no serious consequences and a minor stabilisation of his personal authority. But at what cost? My major criticism of Putin is that he has failed to move Russia, an absolutely vital pillar of European cultural heritage, back towards the European centre after decades of isolation. That involves development away from purely autocratic government; but there remains absolutely no sign that Putin even intends to position Russia for that move once he finally relinquishes power – which he ought to have done many years ago. Allowing Navalny to continue his campaigning will not hurt Putin and will not hurt Russia. It is a fascinating and universal fact that the longer people hold power, the more paranoid they become.


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309 thoughts on “Navalny Should Be Released

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  • karlo

    If you believe that it is “hopelessly naive” to think that “breaches of suspension conditions” have “anything at all to do with what is happening”, you’re missing the point.

    Without going into the criminal cases of ‘timber theft in Kirov Les (rhymes with Sherwood)’ and defrauding ‘Yves Rocher Russia LLC’, the legal troubles now pouring on Navallñiy’s head has everything to do with those offences as well as with his studious breaching of suspension conditions. What is now happening is the desired outcome.

    Not only has Alexey regularly breached those solemnly accepted conditions, twice in Jan. 2020, once every month in Feb., Mar., Jul. and Aug., but he also completely ignored the visitation ceremonies ever since falling ill on the 2020/07/20 Tomsk-Moscow flight ‘S7-2614’.

    Since past Aug. 3, he regularly breached all scheduled visits to the Parole Office, which led to his being officially ‘Wanted’ by the police. His lawyer(s) must have been strictly forbidden by him to address the issues on his behalf before the Parole Office even after he was released from the Berlin Hospital ‘Charité’ on Sep. 23 and pending the scheduled review of sentence suspension and possible termination of the sentence on Dec. 10, 2020.

    Navallñiy’s legal representative(s) had been officially informed of all of these breaches as well as of the ‘Wanted’ status by registered mail. A lawyer’s application giving reasonable cause (e.g. hang-over or similar) was all that was needed to de-escalate the situation. But then the planned white revolution in RF would have been even less than a fiasco that it is – a covfefe.

    All that can be done now is keep lying on a global industrial scale using Integrity Initiative’s grip on media.

    For example the news, that according to practically all media, on his return to RF Navallñiy was given a brand-new 3.5-year sentence for “not reporting to the police while he was dying of alleged Novíchok poisoning”. In actual fact he was served a 1-month imprisonment for that on arrival, not for missed appearances at Parole Office but for absence at a scheduled court session last Dec. 10, where the success of the 5-year conditional suspension of his 2014-sentence would have been reviewed in order to either abolish the sentence, or, eventually, extend the suspension by at least the 10 missed month-halves. Most of the news also noted that the period served in house arrest before it was suspended would be deducted from the ‘new’ 3.5-years for non-reportance to the police.

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