X Close

Alexei Navalny has no heir Is this the end of Russia's opposition?

The future looks bleak. (Andrey Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images)

The future looks bleak. (Andrey Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images)


February 16, 2024   5 mins

When Alexei Navalny chose to board a flight to Moscow in January 2021, the opposition leader must have known his death was all but inevitable. After surviving one assassination attempt, and staring down the barrel of a long jail sentence handed down by Russia’s corrupt judiciary, Navalny chose to martyr himself in the name of overthrowing Putin. Yet today, he leaves behind him no united opposition, no leader to occupy his place, and little hope that tomorrow will be any brighter for the Russian Federation.

In the three years since his return to Russia, the former lawyer and blogger made occasional appearances by fuzzy video link from remote Russian jails to respond to absurd charges. His emaciated body showed the signs of extreme suffering. Russia’s kolonii — penal colonies for hardened criminals — are brutal places at the best of times. But Navalny received a special diet of inhuman torture. Months spent alone in solitary confinement in freezing conditions and on meagre rations destroyed his health. The state even refused for long periods to turn his cell’s lights off, and blasted political propaganda into his room for hours on end.

Yet Navalny, astonishingly, seemed to remain in rude psychological health. In court the day before he died, the political prisoner was seen laughing and joking — he rarely took the regime’s show trials seriously, choosing to mock rather than participate in them — and he regularly wrote searing critiques of the Putin regime and its wars from his jail cell. When his lawyers were able to reach him, they shared these materials through Navalny’s popular social media feeds. Navalny’s body may have been broken, but he remained conscious of both Russia’s politics and, presumably, the terrible fate that awaited him.

When Navalny burst onto the political scene in the early 2010s, he used social media to bring hundreds of thousands of Russians to protest on the streets against the Russian state’s corruption and criminality. Writing on his personal blog, Navalny laid into the elites and gave voice to the opposition: “We are not cattle or slaves. We have a voice and the strength to defend it.” This handsome and youthful lawyer spoke in the language of the young, using the communications platform of the young, to rile up opposition to Vladimir Putin’s criminal regime. And Navalny’s overarching message, broadcast at a time when mass oppression was only just beginning in post-Soviet Russia, was simple: anybody but Putin.

A skilled political operator, writer, and orator, Navalny appealed to Russians from across the spectrum to band together and give Putin the boot. In those early marches, which centred on opposition to the undemocratic presidential election of 2012, Navalny called on everyone from greens to communists, liberals, and nationalists to join his campaign. Showing little regard for who he worked with, Navalny soon found himself the leader of an informal grouping whose leaders are today, like Ilya Yashin, in jail — or, like Boris Nemtsov, long ago killed by the regime. Nobody at the time knew how to speak to or unite such a broad spectrum of Russia’s disparate opposition as Alexei Navalny.

Yet it was this very strategy of unity that provoked the greatest criticism of Navalny. The leader’s alignment with the far-Right and earlier support for nationalist policies — he would later apologise for alluding to Muslims as “cockroaches” in a 2007 video — has tarnished his reputation with Ukrainians in particular. Photographs of Navalny marching alongside the far-Right haunt any mention of the leader in online fora, and critics regularly accused him of equivocating over the fate of Crimea in 2014. Navalny was never the liberal white knight that some in the West may have hoped he would be.

Nonetheless, Navalny was the only opposition leader in the last 24 years of Putin’s increasingly totalitarian rule to offer a serious path out of dictatorship, oligarchy, and extreme nationalism. While Navalny’s poll ratings in the abortive electoral campaigns he was involved in never suggested that he had garnered mass support — indeed, his approval rating among the Russian public was actually falling fast in recent years — his publicity team reached a huge online audience and, through their campaign efforts abroad, built serious political links with policymakers around the world. For example, the team’s expose of Putin’s opulent palace on the Black Sea Coast, built with embezzled funds, has been watched over 100,000,000 times on YouTube.

Putin may have controlled the mass media, but Navalny’s team deftly skirted official restrictions to reach a huge audience. Almost everybody in Russia had heard of Alexei Navalny and knew he represented genuine opposition to Putin (whom Navalny christened “the old man in his bunker” — an out of touch, cranky grandpa bent on destroying Russia). In a country whose politics has been littered with fake opposition candidates, Navalny was, for better or worse, the most recognisable and the only alternative to Putin for the majority of Russians.

It may be a coincidence that Navalny’s tragic death in Russia’s far-flung Yamalo-Nenets region comes just a month before the country goes to vote in a presidential election — or, more accurately, participates in the latest coronation of Vladimir Putin. However, it also follows both last week’s news that Putin challenger and soft opposition candidate Boris Nadezhdin has been barred from the ballot paper. These stories only add to the countless reports of the arrests, beatings, and killings of opposition journalists and politicians all over Russia over the past two years. The 2010s generation of opposition leaders and supporters are broken, battered, and destroyed. Now their greatest hope has been killed.

The days when opposition candidates could be allowed to operate in Russia’s peripheries, or even to make a brief appearance in election campaigns, are long gone. Those “vegetarian times”, as Navalny’s former press secretary Anna Veduta once described them to me, have been replaced by oppression that harks back to the darkest days of the 20th century. Now the regime is using new media to turn the screw even tighter, constantly disrupting and diminishing any sparks of opposition before figures like Alexei Navalny are allowed to fan the flames of revolt. Whenever a new campaign is launched, it is instantly drowned out with the noise of bots, trolls, and Putinist true believers — and its proponents are tossed into Russia’s rotting jails. In these circumstances, how can a new, untarnished, and popular Navalny emerge?

“How can a new, untarnished, and popular Navalny emerge?”

Navalny’s greatest achievement was to unite the opposition under the “everyone but Putin” banner in the early 2010s. He built bridges between opposing, fragmented groups. Without Navalny, it would have been impossible to imagine communists marching alongside greens against Putin. The Russian opposition today desperately needs a figure with the psychological fortitude and self-sacrificial character of Alexei Navalny: somebody who is brave enough to stay in Russia, speak the truth without regard for the consequences, and to create new momentum for an “anybody but Putin” campaign. As of today, both analysts watching from abroad and the many Russians who knew Alexei Navalny’s name would agree that no such figure exists.

Perhaps that figure might be Navalny’s wife, Yuliia, who made an uncompromising and powerful public speech calling for revenge against her dead husband’s murderers shortly after hearing news of his passing. Perhaps it will be an unknown, a young Russian who will take TikTok or some other new technology by storm, as Alexei Navalny did in 2011. But in a world where Putin’s control of mainstream and social media looks stronger than ever, and where the regime is using ever more extreme means to oppress its population, Alexei Navalny’s death signals a newer, bleaker future for Russia.


Dr. Ian Garner is assistant professor of totalitarian studies at the Pilecki Institute in Warsaw. His latest book is Z Generation: Russia’s Fascist Youth (Hurst).

irgarner

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

119 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
J Bryant
J Bryant
5 months ago

Despite the extensive news coverage of Putin, I’ve yet to see an in-depth article about who might succeed him. He is not young and, although he might be able to suppress opposition for the rest of his time in politics, eventually, perhaps quite soon, he will die or become disabled.
Is Putin cultivating a successor? If not, how will the power vacuum of his passing be filled? Is it likely his successor will be worse, from a Western standpoint, than Putin?

R Wright
R Wright
5 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

In true Russian fashion amy successor will limp alomg for one or two years before being replaced amidst a brutal power struggle.

Jim C
Jim C
5 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Really? Where was the “brutal power struggle” when Putin replaced Yeltsin?
I mean, besides the brutal expulsion of numerous dual-citizen oligarchs who’d been helped by Western financiers to seize control of much of Russia’s natural resources?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The thing about Putin (and i agree with your main point about how long will he last) is that he was brought up under the old Soviet regime, and took on board its ways and means with his mother’s milk. That won’t apply to whoever succeeds him.
The west should seek a damage limitation exercise until his demise, and then review where the new leader stands and how strong he (it’ll be a he) might be.
I can’t help thinking that Navalny, for all his bravery, could’ve played a better hand by not returning when he did. He was doing just fine from outside Putin’s grip, although his safety would never have been secure.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Yes, this is what I’ve been asking myself. Why go back? Still could have ended up with Polonium in his tea or Novichok smeared on his front door handle while outside of Russia…but it seemed so reckless and unnecessary.
Watched the film “Navalny” a couple of years ago and there is footage in it of him and Yulia in the plane landing in Moscow, knowing he’s walking into the open maw of the Putin regime. It was pretty powerful stuff.

0 0
0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Of course, you remember that Navalny’s novichok poisoning was notified by the Germans to international authorities before it happened, before he got on the plane. They slipped up there.

If he was already surplus to requirements then, his value hasn’t increased since.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
5 months ago
Reply to  0 0

I was referencing the attack on Skrupal in Salisbury. When Navalny was attacked with Novichok, I believe it was on his underpants.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Shouldve gone commando then,bet Putin does.

Jim C
Jim C
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Have we settled on the underpants story now, or are we sticking with the waterbottle story?
Navalny had something like 2% support in Russia, The idea that he was “the” Russian opposition leader is laughable; he’s only being described as such here because he was a Western catspaw.
He was also a flaming racist, which is probably why the CIA liked him so much; stir up dissent in the Muslim regions, encourage the breakup of Russia.
Divide and conquer. Millennia-old technique of empire, yet the poloi still fall for it, as we’re seeing in Ukraine.
Speaking of Ukraine: where’s the outrage for the death of journalist Gonzalo Lira, who died in similar circumstances for political thoughtcrimes in that shining example of “freedom” and “democracy”?
Crickets.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

Do you seriously believe Navalny only had the support of 2%?

Elena R.
Elena R.
5 months ago

i am afraid, they do… I would find it im possiblr to reply to Jim.C as it is too far below any threshold. Il faut de tout pour faire un monde

Jim C
Jim C
5 months ago
Reply to  Elena R.

What figure of support would you give Navalny then? And why?

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
5 months ago
Reply to  0 0

What…?

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Probably got Jesus Saviour of the World Syndrome. Wait,it’s not 3 days yet is it.

Elena R.
Elena R.
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Alexey did not think the regime would go that far in its barbarity. He did not want to be a yet another opposition leader in exile. He was everything the coward nkvd-ist is not.
The life will never be the same after his martyrdom. He will live on in the hearts and minds of millions of Russians.
One day, the generation of those who he has inspired, those who, today, are watching in silent horror how hundreds are being brutally taken into custody and flowers are being hastily removed from the improvised memorials, will avenge wrong on the perpetrators.

mike otter
mike otter
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

IKR – if we’d have let them into the international clearing bank system Yeltsin/Perestroika era, we’d be able to cut them off at the knees now. However – if we’d let them have a seat at the table a less despotic system may well have evolved, despite Putin and other’s claims they’d simply replace the Tartar yoke with the Yankee one. Then we wouldn’t be in this mess playing 12th centuary politics in the 21st one. How this will end only Tengri knows, and he does, but “oh those Russians” as Boney M wisely opined.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  mike otter

That meme now often comes into my mind

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I wouldn’t be so sure about the immediate successor, although in the long run younger men will have to take over.
Most of Putin’s inner circle are about his age: Patrushev, Bastrykhin, et al. We may thus have the same kind of gerontocracy we saw in the late Soviet period, with each leader dying off after a few years.
So, just when another Gorbachev takes over, and what he will do is the most fascinating question today.

Jim C
Jim C
5 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Medvedev is relatively young; you’re going to love him!

Geoffrey Kolbe
Geoffrey Kolbe
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The “old Soviet regime” was just a variation on the usual way Russians do their politics and whoever succeeds Putin will have to act in exactly the same way or the country is ungovernable. Russia does not know how to ‘do’ democracy. It has not had 600 years of experience in working it out. When Russia did have a brief go at democracy in the ’90’s it was a dismal failure.
As for Navalny returning to Russia, he would have been written off as unpatriotic and a coward unless he did return to Russia. Navalny knew that he would never succeed in making any headwind against Putin while he stayed out of Russia and so he knew that if he was serious about overthrowing Putin, he would have to return to Russia.
But remember, Navalny was no democrat burnishing his high moral values in the way that we in the West would applaud. Navalny did not disapprove of Russia invading Ukraine, only the incompetent way in which it was done. If Navalny had actually replaced Putin in some parallel universe, we would have found him a Russia first version of Donald Trump and quickly removed him from the pantheon of political martyrs.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 months ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Kolbe

No, he has actually condemned it as immoral and illegal.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Kolbe

Nor do we seeing as we’ve never had Democracy. We maybe.came close in the 1960s but then the greedy unions or rather their grasping rank and file killed the goose. The NHS though wonderful was really a huge con trick,like a juicy bone thrown to a savage dog to distract him so you can break in the house. The political establishment knew they had to give some sort of meaningful reward to the men they had dragged from ordinary life,put in uniform and sent to death or terror as GM Fraser describes in his “Quartered Safe Out Here”. Those men EXPECTED SOMETHING for their + their families sacrifice so they got the NHS and the then government left rebuilding the economy to private companies. That was the exact opposite way the other European countries used their Marshall Aid. The NHS was and still is a fantastic achievement but it was essentially a magicians diversion tactic,hey,look over there.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

CIA operatives probably kidnapped him,shoved him on a plane then did him in themselves knowing Putin would get the blame. Ok gang,I’m mad as hell and im not taking it any more,who’s with me,train to Moscow,we storm the Kremlin and do a Ceaucescu on Mr Putin,and we all get gold medals from that old banker Biden,only they melt under the TV lights as they’re chocolate,but Hunters touch,nice THC core.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

I just don’t understand if you are ironic or just nuts.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago

The latter, for sure…

Jim C
Jim C
5 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

My guess is he was instructed by his Western handlers to return. Yes, it was dangerous to go back, but I doubt his wife and kids would continue to live such cushy privileged lives in the West if he disobeyed.
So: face getting himself (and possibly his entire family) murdered in the West by Russian agents – or CIA agents hoping to pin it on Russia – or risk prison for himself in Russia.
Bit of a Hobson’s Choice, really, but as Kissinger remarked: to be America’s adversary is dangerous, to be its friend is fatal.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

So, are you writing from a troll farm in StPetersburg,or do you really believe that? If the latter, on what grounds?

Jim C
Jim C
5 months ago

Yes, yes, anyone who suggests the West isn’t as pure as the driven snow – and might still be playing murderous games to maintain its murderous empire – is located in… Russia.
Yes. Of course! It’s so obvious!
Here’s a question for you, Mr Gustavsson – when did the Anglo-American empire stop being evil?
Was it after they stole the lands from native Americans?
Was it after they nuked the Marshall Islanders?
Was it after they tortured Kenyans during the Mau Mau rebellion?
Slaughtering a full fifth of the population of North Korea? Killing millions in (illegal and undeclared) bombing campaigns in Indochina? Perhaps it was after they invaded Iraq on spurious pretexts? Flew terrorist suspects out to CIA black sites to be tortured? Funded Al-Qaeda to overthrow Assad? Gave Israel all the weapons it needed to slaughter tens of thousands of women and children?
When did the West become so good?
Do tell.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

I don’t think the west is pure as snow. I do however think the alternatives is worse. I mean, everything the Nazis may have said about British imperialism in indwould have been true. Doesn’t make Hitler the better alternative though.
And everything you mention above about what you call the Anglo American empire is true.
But it isn’t as black and white as that. The British empire was the first empire to abolish slavery, and spent considerable resources from the 1830s onwards fighting the transatlantic slave trade, without any profit at all. And the empire’s intervention in the Sudan was driven by the intention to stop Arab slave trade (which was worse than the transatlantic) and saving elephants from extinction.
so you are the one who seems incapable of not having a totally fanatic black and white view of things.

0 0
0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

No he has not, he’s too paranoid to do that, with cultivating a successor you run the risk of the person could turn against you and overthrow you, also dictator’s often have too much of an ego to accept that one day they’ll be out of power, so they don’t often bother. On the contrary, Putin has cut people down to size who may have had the ability to succeed him, if someday he does designated a successor, it will be someone who is weak and can be easily dominated by him until he dies. That means when Putin dies, the person he may have designated a successor may not be able to hold on to power for very long after his passing, which could mean chaos. In the meantime he might do what he did with Dmitry Medvedev, let someone else hold the presidency while he holds some other position,that being Prime minister, all the while controlling things from behind the scenes, eventually coming back to take the presidency at another time.

James Twigg
James Twigg
5 months ago
Reply to  0 0

That sounds like the Obama/Biden model of backroom control of power.

Sandes Ashe
Sandes Ashe
5 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Robert Kaplan wrote last week in this journal about just such. Dissolution may replace Putin’s Russia. Fragmentation may be the future of the nuclear armed, retarded child of Europe.
Not necessarily a better world.
Hmmm


AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Sandes Ashe

So…stick with the tyrant you know?

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
5 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

President P will end up something like Stalin. Having a heart attack and dying alone in humiliating physical conditions while his associates try to save themselves from each other.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
5 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Perhaps it could have been Navalny had Navalny gone about things differently.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Be much worse as in be careful what you wish for. Odd that we are (are we) fighting to save democracy in a place thats banned it and made it illegal.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
5 months ago

We shall never know what caused the death of the thoroughly unpleasant Alexei Navalny, a racist and fantasist to rank with Juan GuaidĂł or Kim McGuinness. My local political enemies call me “The Cockroach”, because I “would survive a nuclear war”. Don’t mess with us cockroaches.

Navalny was not the “Russian Opposition Leader”. There were only ever small demonstrations in support of Mr Cockroaches, as there were in support of GuaidĂł, and as there are, of sorts, in support of McGuinness, whose events are nothing if not cosy. Navalny’s electoral unpopularity was mercifully well-established, as GuaidĂł’s would have been if it had ever been tested, and as McGuinness’s very soon will be. Most people in Russia were lucky enough never to have heard of Navalny, as most people in Venezuela are lucky enough never to have heard of GuaidĂł, and as most people in the North East of England will always be lucky enough never to have heard of McGuinness.

Not that Navalny should have been imprisoned. But take no lectures on that from anyone who did not actively support the release of Julian Assange, who has none of the bad points either of Navalny or of Donald Trump, opposition to the lawfare against whom should also be a prerequisite for being taken seriously. On both counts, that test is failed by all four of the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, and now also the SNP.

But this General Election offers the chance to return at least one true dissident in the person of Andrew Feinstein, who, among many other good things, would shine on the failings of the South African Government a light otherwise seen in Britain only by regular readers of the Morning Star or by those who followed George Galloway closely, all the while without any nostalgia for apartheid either explicitly, or in the form of opposition to South Africa’s action before the International Court of Justice against the genocide of Gaza. Those who indulge in that have either never heard of, for example, the Marikana massacre, or they approve of it and quite possibly profited from it.

Bob Downing
Bob Downing
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

And the point of your rant against almost everybody? That’s as in how it relates to the article, rather than as an excuse to rant.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob Downing

A diversionary tactic, to move the conversation away from that loveable rogue Putin

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Putin is neither of those. But apparently healthy people in their forties do indeed just drop down dead, even if their living conditions are a very long way removed from those of FKU IK-3. And it is of course the case that the state that is holding anyone who dies in custody is responsible and must be made to answer. Alexei Navalny. Gonzalo Lira. Jeffrey Epstein. Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Deaths in custody in the United Kingdom.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

What does any of that have to do with a murderous dictator such as Putin regularly killing his political opponents? Please keep the comments relevant to the article, it can make the debate incredibly unwieldy if not.
If you wish to rant about those other subjects then write a piece for UnHerd, you’re free to offer your contributions after all

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Whilst you may well be right, Navalny could have just died after a walk, it’s extremely unlikely that would have happened had he not been previously poisoned with novichok, gone on hunger strike over his unreasonable imprisonment, or suffered whatever else the Russian prison system has subjected him too.

In other words he’d almost certainly still be alive and healthy if he wasn’t a political opponent of Putin.

El Uro
El Uro
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

I’d say your comment is a pretty classic piece of cheap demagoguery.

John Burke
John Burke
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Similar to other figures championed by Western powers, such as Juan Guaido in Venezuela or Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in Belarus, Navalny projected an image of youthful vigor and attractiveness, presenting himself as a fresh, dynamic leader. He maintained a strong presence on social media platforms, where he garnered the majority of his following, predominantly among the younger demographic aged 15 to 30, which is more receptive to Western narratives disseminated through social networks.
Navalny’s appeal was limited within Russia, particularly outside major urban centers like Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The Western perceptions of Navalny’s significance within Russia’s domestic political landscape are often misconstrued, paralleling the overestimation of popular support experienced by marginal opposition figures like Juan Guaido.
Navalny’s political relevance was negligible both in the West and within Russia. There’s little indication that the United States or other Western powers seriously regarded him as a viable alternative to Vladimir Putin.
He led for a time an opposition movement lacking a coherent vision for governance, Navalny’s faction sought to unseat Putin without offering a substantive alternative. Consequently, this disparate opposition faction garnered minimal support within Russia.
Until you have a movement within Russia that has a political programme rather than just we don’t like Putin then it’s doomed to failure.

0 0
0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Warning! Warning!: Useful idiots, Russian trolls and bots incoming. The comment section of the site is infested with these types of things, even some of contributors are guilty of this, especially if Russia is a topic, it’s frustrating and annoying it puts a cloud over a good site.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  0 0

We can always do with a laugh in the morning…

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Rather shows the total irrelevance of the old Marxist Left these days.
Why not get relevant and become a militant Orthodox Champion of Putin?
The only way forward…

0 0
0 0
5 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Because the modern left isn’t driven by desire to heal the world make it a better place. Intersectional or Marxist, it doesn’t really matter, It’s driven by an extreme resentment at the world and their place in it. What animates them is an idea but the world hasn’t given they’re due and they’re angry at it. Their causes they embrace gives an excuses to take revenge against reality, they see the likes of Putin and other strongmen as means to create opening to take revenge upon the world. Despite the fact the actions of those said people contradict their belief systems they have the key for.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Sort of the way Stalin thought he could use the Nazis, and so forbade the Communists from actively opposing them.
Some people on the Left think on a far more elevated intellectual plane….

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Presumably the 29 times Navalny was put in solitary confinement, with little or no heat in an Arctic winter, had nothing to do with his death.

El Uro
El Uro
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Don’t mess with us cockroaches.
Nobody messes with cockroaches. It’s enough to turn on the lights to make them run around in a panic.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Ingenious!
A Russian who was subjected to solitary confinement in sub-zero arctic conditions–29 times–and had been poisoned once before, died under “mysterious circumstances.”
Rather like those mysterious 30,000 deaths in Gaza.
We will probably never know the cause…

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela are all in the vanguard of a New World Order!
Jut as the Soviets brought down World Kapital in 1991, so they will do so again!
(Thunderous, Stormy applause)

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
5 months ago

Acf.international Navalny’s anti corruption foundation, is worth supporting IMHO.

Here, a message from Navalny some years back. May he rest in peace.

Message from Navalny:

If something surprised me in the last elections, it was not at all Putin, falsifying the results, but how obediently the almighty Big Tech turned into his assistants.

The giants Apple and Google, following the Kremlin’s demands, have removed our application. My beloved YouTube deleted our video, and the Telegram messenger blocked the work of our bot.

These “extremist” programs, according to Putin, contained only information about opposition candidates in your constituency.

By law and common sense, each of us has the right to urge to vote (or not vote) for anyone.

In our case, the very intention to organize voters in order to squeeze the ruling party was declared criminal, and Big Tech agreed with this. Thus, it recognizes the right of an authoritarian thief to subjugate the Internet, turning it into an instrument of retention of power.

It’s one thing when the Internet monopolists are ruled by cute freedom-loving nerds with solid life principles.

It is completely different when people are at the helm at the same time cowardly and greedy.

One of the challenges of modern times is that false prophets now come to us not in sheep’s clothing, but in hoodies and stretched jeans. Against the background of huge screens, they tell us about “make the world a better place”, but inside they are liars and hypocrites.

The media write that the Kremlin forced Big Tech to make concessions by showing them almost a list of employees to be arrested. If so, then keeping silent about it is the worst crime. This is the encouragement of the hostage-taking terrorist.

I know that most of those who work at Google, Apple, etc. are honest and good people. I urge them not to put up with the cowardice of their bosses.

Well, I can’t help but notice that I am terribly upset and disappointed with Pavel Durov from Telegram. I didn’t expect to see him on the list of Putin’s “blockers”.

It seems that quite recently I spoke at a rally convened against the Kremlin’s blocking of Telegram itself.

And I would have done it again, by the way. The fact that someone betrays their principles does not mean that we should doubt our✊

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago

The name ‘unherd Reader’ is applied to those subscribers that have not completed their name in theUnherd Account Profile. ie their name in the profile section is blank.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter F. Lee

Indeed. Being slow in some ways, I only lately realized that Unherd Reader was not the most versatile and uneven commenter in history but many people, some of whom are profilic and spirited participants.

In my opinion they should at least be numbered or distinguished from each other in some way.

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Easiest thing in the world AJ,to add one’s name to one’s profile.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter F. Lee

I get that, Mr. Lee. I’m suggesting that those won’t or who don’t should receive a distinguishing label anyway such as “UR 001” or “UR 222”.
By the way, soon after I signed up here I was asked (not required) to change my screenname to first name plus last initial. I added the extra two letters (-ac) to offset my nickname AJ, which is on all my official documents except my birth certificate now.

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Unless I misunderstood what you were saying (my apologies if I have) but you can choose any alias/name you like to add to your profile. The only thing that has be valid is the email address.

Andrew Armitage
Andrew Armitage
5 months ago

On each of the days Navalny was arrested, poisoned, sentenced or imprisoned, 99% of UK news coverage was about cake & prosecco.
We are where we are for a reason. Suddenly journalists care about him now he’s dead?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago

Yet a net-upvoted comment here claims that even his death is a non-story, or at least an injustice of “no geopolitical consequence”.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago

Because they think they can get us all riled up and slavering to kill Russians. They think were Pavlov dogs.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago

What a joke this agenda pace is – how about

”Jan 13, 2024Gonzalo Lira, a Chilean-American war commentator known for his critical views on the Zelensky regime and Russia-Ukraine conflict, passed away on January 11, 2024, in a hospital in Kharkiv, Ukraine.”

Who Zalenski killed in his gulags – and he was a American Citizen! And Biden or the MSM Do Not care!

How about the Jan 6 political prisoners? How about Trump in constant kangaroo Political courts? How about Trump removed from several State Ballots? Kennedy removed from Democrat ballots? How about all the Political Prisoners in American Gulag under Biden and the DHS, CIA, FBI, DARPA, Biden White House????????

How about the 2020 election being stolen? The Invasion of USA, EU, UK by intentionally open borders and billions of $ funnelled to NGOs who arrange the transport for these invaders? (They do not find their way here – they are brought – watch some Michael Yon, Bret Weinstein in the Darian Gap!)

How about what is really going on but kept out of the news when this case makes headlines everywhere – although it is of no significance to us at all?

FFS – this place is part of the agenda….it is herd

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago

I weep…WEEP for the poor 6 Jan victim who defecated on Nancy Pelosi’s desk.
HIs incarceration ranks with the Dreyfuss Affair!

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
5 months ago

Whilst Mr. Navalny’s death is tragic it is of no geopolitical consequence at all. He was never a real threat to Russia’s rulers and any hopes that he would be were fantasy.
However the MSM are promoting it as a major story, presumably to try to emphasise that Putin is not nice. Well Russian politics is rough, as in many other countries, some of which the West supports unreservedly.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

It does show, however, that there is no way to make a “deal” with Putin.
Like Holy Russia itself, Putin knows he is no longer bound by any earthly laws.
He will thus lead it to its Sacred Destiny: a Muscovy to which all the nations of the world must bow down in deep reverence…

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

He has to be defeated before the Anti-Christ will reveal himself in power,so live on Putin as long as you can. Once Tony Blair,oops The Anti-Christ is installed in The Vatican microchipping everyone it’s going to be no fun.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Revelations 13:16

16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads,17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

And only Putin can defeat the Anti-Christ!
You read Holy Scripture correctly!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

The worldwide response to this outrageous “long-game execution” suggests your wrong. He has already had a global impact that will likely endure and grow. You cannot accurately predict whether such a clearly noteworthy event–and courageous life–will have much “geopolitical consequence” or not.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

He’s not Jesus.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Nor did I claim he was. Celebrating the genuine good qualities of someone who has left us needn’t amount to deification.
In truth, one can honor and attempt to follow Jesus himself without making him into a god and thereby, in my view, cheapening his struggle and accomplishment.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
5 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

I agree, as sad as it is, but his death will probably have no geopolitical consequence, as nothing really happened after the assassination of Boris Nemtsov in 2015. Nemtsov death was condemned worldwide, and the investigation by the “authorities” got confessions from two men, which were very likely extracted under torture. Navalny’s death will be blamed on natural causes

Putin will stick around for quite some time and at one point negotiations about the Ukrainian war will take place in the not too distant future.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago

Fine.
But the talks won’t see Ukraine involved.
No one there is stupid enough to trust someone who routinely breaks all agreements, especially now that Russia has become a Neo-Stalinist state.
Everyone inside Ukrainian-held territory is now fatally compromised. Just as in WW2, anyone living on that side of the front is by definition a traitor.
No excuses.
So any territory yielded to Russia must be “cleansed” of “Nazism”. Some will be tortured and killed, a la Bucha. The rest will be deprived of all rights, becoming non-persons for the rest of their lives.
The Iron Logic of Stalinism/Late Putinism. Even Putin cannot change it.
So, just as you wouldn’t open the door to a killer–even if you were freezing and starving–no Ukrainian will voluntarily surrender to Russia, or to a Russian-backed govt.
Little thing called “human nature.”

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
5 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

That may be and only time will tell. Maybe people said the same when Emily Wilding Davison went under Anmer at the Epsom Derby in 1913…but her cause won out in the end.
I any case, I lit my candle for Navalny outside the Russian embassy in Vienna today. For no other reason that I admire courage in people and Navalny had that in spades. Winston Churchill was dead right when he said that courage was the most important human virtue, because it guarantees all the others.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

She was emotionally disturbed and of low IQ and since her day we have had ample proof that women CEOs mostly lead to the downfall and ruin of whatever they head up from the Post Office to HSBC bank.
It’s dangerous to be a political opponent to anyone in that sphere of the world. That’s just how it is.

Chuck de Batz
Chuck de Batz
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

quite, look at what happened to the UK

Chuck de Batz
Chuck de Batz
4 months ago
Reply to  Chuck de Batz

(between 1979 and 1990)

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago

Just another signal that now the only way Putin can rule Russia is via a neo-Stalinist Totalitarianism.
The big question, of course is: can he succeed? Stalin did so because of massive Allied aid, and bombing that prevented the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe from ever being a serious threat to the Soviet Army.
Whether North Korea & Iran can fill this gap is thus a big question.
But even with control over half of Europe, Stalin’s Russia was essentially stagnant, with no real future. 1991 was inevitable.
However, that’s not the way Putin sees it.
At his age, and with his lack of knowledge of anything outside of Russia, Putin has convinced himself that, like the Soviet Union, Russia is still in the vanguard of “Progressive nations” like Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba and Myanmar. He knows that it was simple betrayal by Russians themselves that snatched defeat from the jaws of “victory” in 1991.
He will thus never forgive them for that. Hence his willingness to crack down on any dissent.
And he has a logical reason to think that. For Putin, the world he saw on the KGB television spy series in the 1960s, IS reality. They inspired him to join that august organization. That they all occurred under Stalin’s guiding hand was to any viewer no accident.
And for Putin they are the genuine reality, not the carefully censored briefings he gets every day from his minions.
Thus, we’ll just have to see whether Putin can make the sacred vision of his Georgian Saviour–a Russia that dominates the world–a reality.
Again…

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
5 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

‘For Putin, the world he saw on the KGB television spy series in the 1960s, IS reality’.

If reality = truth, for that mindset it doesn’t really matter what reality is. Power is what counts, power decides truth/reality.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  Jon Barrow

Which is why we need to send 155 mm shells &F-16s to Ukraine.
To decide reality…

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago

What’s also interesting is what effect this will have on Tuck’s career.
“OK, OK, so Navalny died.”
“But the SUPERMARKETS!”

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
5 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

So since George W. Bush pronounced very publicly at the end of the Soviet era that ‘The country and the leadership that provides the most goods and services for its people deserves to win’ the rules have changed, or was he speaking nonsense? Because there’s no dispute that’s what Putin delivered, which is why, despite our endless assertions that “real” democracy does not exist in Russia, Russians have overwhelmingly voted for him for decades. War notwithstanding. We are more practised propagandists than the Soviets, and have become what we so long opposed. But hey, feel free to sling some meaningless insult.

David Walters
David Walters
5 months ago

Are we sure that Putin was behind his death? It seems a strange time to assassinate him just as Western resolve for Ukraine was flagging. Given Nalvany was in captivity would it have been worth it – particularly at this time?

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  David Walters

The treatment meted out to Navalny made his death inevitable.
And with Nadezhdin barred from running, the death of one more enemy seemed of little consequence.
Our Vova is now elevated above all such petty, earthly concerns…

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago
Reply to  David Walters

False flag? Some say it was.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago

Epstein…

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago

As Donald says:
“People are sayin’…”
So it must be true!!!!!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  David Walters

Yes, it’s completely out of character for a political opponent of Putin to meet a grisly end isn’t it? It must have been the evil west that bumped Nalvany off!

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

CIA! CIA! CIA!

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
5 months ago

Ian Garner, like so many of our Russian experts, is an unobjective observer of Russia. The characterisation “A skilled political operator, writer, and orator, Navalny appealed to Russians from across the spectrum to band together and give Putin the boot” is simply not remotely credible, even according to years of Western political polling in Russia. Some such pollsters operate in the commercial as well as political spheres, such as Penn, Schoen & Berland, with whom I worked at a US commercial executive office as Director of Strategy. They were at that time well-entrenched as Democrat pollsters, and we always put them into places like Serbia to inform the opposition whenever we want a regime change. We need to stop doing this and come up with rational foreign policies instead of using advertising research to bend the reality on the ground in other countries our way by running the political version of a classic Madison Avenue campaign.
As chilling as his death is, and awful, awful, awful it is for a family man with a loving wife and two wonderful and surely lovely and loving children, many more objective and even empathetic observers have described him very much other than as our expert here. He ran some pretty extremist nationalist rhetoric complete with YouTube animations when a whiff of fascism in the electorate might have put some wind in his sails. Folks like Ian say, “Ah, but he’s transformed into a liberal since then.” Like a butterfly? Right, ok. Because he transformed himself just as we advised. Do we think the Russians have no idea? My God.
We picked Yeltsin and Gaidar armed with Shock Therapy, derived as in part from meetings in 1925 and 1926 with the first Soviet Finance Ministry and with Schacht in Nazi Germany by our leading economist, over Gorbachev and Gavrilenkov, and so it was that under Tony Lake et al’s choice the Russian economy and society went to hell and became corrupt, and Yeltsin agonised over our accelerated continuation of the Cold War after the end of the Cold War. Then a dying Yeltsin, realising the cold reality of his post-1991 bargain with the US, handed things over to Putin.
If our people keep employing people like Ian to do the same thing over and over, where do we end up? In a far unhappier place than now. But we keep on, because we saw how Hitler learned from Madison Avenue and the thinking runs: “We just need to find and encourage our liberal Hitler, and ‘presto’!” Bang, more likely.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
5 months ago

“Far from the liberal many thought he was” …? Maybe Navalny would have accomplished his mission more successfully by becoming part of Putin’s inner circle rather than opposing him. It’s hard to oppose stability and win enough friends to gain traction. And without the military and security apparatus you can forget about it ! So he was unable to accomplish neither a silent revolution nor a bloody coup. He wasn’t a Mandela. He wasn’t a Khomeini.
Gorbachev accomplished Glasnost from the top of the inside, from strength, not by opposing stability. Maybe the one-party system has that feature that gives it an inherent strength which democracy might not have, especially when it is taking place without that magic word which Biden promised – UNITY. What lessons can the west take away from this ?

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago

Yours seem to think that only Putin-style Fascism is stable.
How very interesting…

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
5 months ago

Indeed.
And revolutions are generally led by frustrated insiders or folks who were frustrated from joining the highest ranks of insiders. Examples include: The American Revolution, The Taiping Rebellion, The American Civil War, any given Roman civil war, The English Civil Wars, The French Revolution …

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 months ago

Well, if experts had been asked in 1977 if they thought Vaclav Havel ever would become the president of Checkoslovakia, they would have said it was unlikely.

0 0
0 0
5 months ago

Potted biographies of Navalny everywhere now, with the same simplistic story line, add to the impression that he’s made the ultimate sacrifice for Washington. One of the few more balanced evaluations is on the business site bneintellinews.
None deal with how his civil society activism was complicated and ultimately compromised by Western ‘support,’ or how the context of that changed around him. During the Bush second term when Burns was ambassador in Moscow, liberalisation in former Soviet states was accepted all round. But that ended when Burns was dismissed and Nuland and the other neocons became dominant in Washington at the end of 2007. In the new atmosphere of mutual mistrust, liberal exchange was replaced by intrigue and subversion. Navalny’s work was more and more compromised by Western support and any potential he might have had as a political reformer in Russia sacrificed.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Putin started talking about the “Russian World” in 2005.
So factually, a “Russia without Borders” was already well under way by 2007.
The attack on Georgia didn’t come out of nothing…

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
5 months ago

When the USSR collapsed in 1991, the US and its allies had a choice: establish a country with political and economic ties to Western Europe or plunder the resources of the collapsed state. The US and its allies chose the latter, causing immense poverty that many Russians now associate with democracy and economic cooperation with the West. It was a poverty that even the kleptomaniac gangster Putin was able to alleviate by controlling his impulse to steal everything.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago

Er, it was actually Russian oligarchs who “plundered the resources of the collapsed state.”
And they had the full support of Putin–as long as they did not challenge him politically.
The Power Vertical…

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
5 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

So very true.

El Uro
El Uro
5 months ago

Tell me how you differ from the woke who blame the West and capitalism for all the troubles that happen to us

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
5 months ago

Elites in the “West” do have this habit of fetishizing and elevating their latest hero to Messianic status. Examples would include Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Obama, Zelenskyy, Juan Gaido, Robert Mugabe… and even Stalin.
Meanwhile, where are we on the death in a Ukrainian prison of Gonzalo Lira? And how do folks stack up on the Julian Assange matter? Not that Assange is a saint, either, but …

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago

YES!

Try youtube ‘Judging Freedom’ with Judge Napolitano and guests from CIA, Scott Ritter, Col Macgregor…… See how everything is a lie if it is in the MSM.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago

This would be Scott Ritter who indecently exposed himself to kids?

Agnes Barley
Agnes Barley
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

What’s that got to do with it?

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago

It does seem that more and more people are dying in prison (under the careful eye of the people in power). Have governments like the US and Russia realised that there are no repercussions. Or are these and other countries just getting more corrupt?

Agnes Barley
Agnes Barley
5 months ago
Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
5 months ago
Reply to  Agnes Barley

Correct. Freddie, though, wants not to hear this. Fingers in ears.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago

From the foaming at the mouth slavering remarks I’ve heard reported on my radio from the people who form our political administration they want us,people like me to be angry and agree to let them send out sons,our grandsons,our great nephews and their female counterparts to avenge this death. They treat us like Pavlov dogs.
It’s pathetic but it’s criminal too

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

They were saying the same mean things about poor Hitler.
Look how many died in that useless war, 1939-45!

When will the sheeple learn that their only friends are our foes?!

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Goodwin’s Law rides to the rescue of a bad argument yet again.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago

Except of course, that’s exactly what people were saying in 1938…

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
5 months ago

Why did Navalny and his wife return to Moscow? Did they family who were at risk there and blackmailed into returning?

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  jules Ritchie

Certainly couldn’t have anything to do with the long tradition of Russian dissidents voluntarily enduring persecution and imprisonment, a la St Phillip, Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn.
So maybe the CIA offered him a book deal?

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
5 months ago

Ian is hardly an objective observer of Russia, and Navalny was our man, not the choice of Russians, contrary to what Ian quite falsely asserts. Our own political polling in Russia told us this. But the same people doing our polling tidied him up, advised him, turned his harsh nationalistic xenophobia completely around, into a semblance of classic liberalism we thought would win over younger Russians, and ultimately put him in the firing line for our own purposes. I call that cynical, and far from noble. However much we choose to delude ourselves.

Dennis Learad
Dennis Learad
5 months ago

why would anyone want to follow in this racists footsteps. What Russia does not tolerate is the WOKE ideology the diversity cancer that has infected the western hemisphere.Yes Putin has his enemies and there are many but he he has many supporters and friends because his first priority is the masses not the western hemisphere cancer, look at the 11% of the world population Western Hemisphere as against Russia 2% I know what percentage I would be in. The west now run by warmongers unelected elites,puppet governments that have destroyed Democracy as we know it.One thing for certain we do hear RUSSIA calling for a ceasefire for the Genocide being committed in GAZA!! Finally follow the money you will find Navalny has 30 pieces of silver from the WEST!!

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Learad

There is no proof for anything you say–so it must be true!
Because if there WERE proof…it would just be Fake Nooz…

Genuis…

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
5 months ago

I have not come across in the comments on any unherd article such a confused set of posts. It seems nobody has a clue. I am not being critical; I just do not think any knows what situation really is.

martin logan
martin logan
5 months ago

Obviously, it was the CIA.

There’s no proof–so it must be them!
Because if there WERE proof of anyone else, it would just be…Fake Nooz!!!