Navalny: Khodorkovsky stole all the oil and Navalny stole all the timber

Russian prosecutors charged Aleksei Navalny on with embezzlement.

Question:

Would you say that Alexei Navalny is a person Putin’s regime is afraid of or should be afraid of, or not and why?

Answer:

Brian Taylor, Associate Professor, Political Science, Director, Center for European Studies, University of Syracuse

Navalny is one of the more dangerous opposition figures, from the Kremlin’s point of view, because he is a relatively young (36) and new figure on the national stage, unlike some other opposition leaders. He has a talent both for exposing official corruption and for what one could call guerrilla marketing – it was Navalny who successfully rebranded the pro-Putin United Russia party the “party of swindlers and thieves.”

The arrest of Navalny is just one step among many by Putin’s regime to try to counter the opposition movement that arose after the December 2011 parliamentary elections. Other steps include new laws about NGOs, demonstrations, and the internet. Putin’s natural instinct at times of challenge is to blame internal and external enemies for conspiring to weaken Russia and to seek to tighten the screws, rather than to seek compromise.

There may also be a more personal motive driving Navalny’s arrest – last week he published documents showing that Aleksandr Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee and a close Putin ally, had a residency permit and owned a real estate company in the Czech Republic, something that Bastrykin had previously denied and which may contradict Russian law for someone in his position. It was the Investigative Committee that arrested Navalny.

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