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memri
June 20, 2017 No.
6967

Russian Elections' Chief: Navalny Cannot Run For President, But Challenger's Momentum Builds – An Update

On June 14, Russia's Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova said that opposition leader Alexey Navalny won't be able to register for the 2018 presidential elections, due to his on a convictions on a financial-crimes charge.[1] Meanwhile, Nalany was sentenced to 30 days in jail for calling demonstrators to Tverskaya during the nationwide protests on June 12.

After taking part in the June 12 demonstrations, Russian journalist Andrey Loshak wrote on his Facebook account that those are "physiological" protests of the young generation against the "old, cynical and morally outdated state." He then added: "I've seen the faces of the youth, who experience the limits of the Russian freedom on their own skin – their bewilderment was being gradually substituted by resentment and finally by outrage. This outrage will definitely intensify since the authorities are not able to wage a dialog, renewal and progress – they are reactive and capable of repressions only. The youth is looking into the future, and what do they see there? The aging dictator, total corruption, awful inequality, war with the West and the neighboring states, 'traditional values,' 'patriotic education,' lies on TV, fat priests…. This is not a future. This is a caricature on our past, in which we are currently living."[2]

Political expert Aleksandr Morozov wrote in his column for the Russian media outlet Rbc.ru that Navalny's continued success could project into a popular front against the higher ups: "Of course, the Kremlin had fully prepared itself for extending a 'police response' to the so-called 'Orange revolution.' Currently, the Kremlin is attempting via television and local 'party activists' to convince large portions of the population that Navalny is an 'orangist', i.e. in the Kremlin's terms he is ruining Russia under Western guidance. Yet, the feeling is that a large portion of the population is not going to 'buy this idea' from the Kremlin. The Kremlin's attempt to assign Navalny the status of '[Western] Exported liberal' did not succeed."[3]

The following is an overview of Navalny's political activities over the last 6 months:

Navalny
Navalny (Source: Facebook.com/navalny)

Dmitry Oreshkin: It Used To Be 'Putin And The Void', Now It Is 'Putin And Navalny'

Liberal political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin, who unsuccessfully ran in the 2007 elections as a candidate of the Union of Right Forces (one of Russia's ineffectual liberal parties) voices grudging admiration for Alexey Navalny's success but articulates why Navalny is held in suspicion by liberals. While Oreshkin does not necessarily see a Navalny victory over Putinism as imminent such a victory if it came would only replicate Russia's tragic pathology of exchanging one authoritarian knight in shining armor for another. What Russia truly needs are institutional reforms instead of another would be superhero.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6963, Dmitry Oreshkin: It Used To Be 'Putin And The Void', Now It Is 'Putin And Navalny', June 18, 2017.

Navalny Organized Protest Draws Supporters But Is Easily Suppressed

"Led by Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny, anti-corruption activists staged nationwide protests on June 12, as the country celebrated its state sovereignty on Russia Day. The biggest rally of all took place in Moscow, where Navalny changed venues at the last minute, abandoning a planned and permitted demonstration at Sakharov Prospekt for an impromptu march on Tverskaya Street, where the city was holding a holiday festival. Navalny said the late relocation was necessary because the government allegedly pressured local companies into refusing to rent stage equipment to his team of organizers. On Monday morning, Moscow police vowed to remove any protesters at Tverskaya, and they followed through on that threat, detaining at least 700 of the people who came carrying protest signs and chanting anti-Putin slogans. Police detained Navalny before he ever reached Tverskaya Street, stuffing him into a patrol car outside his home in Moscow, roughly 35 minutes before the protest began. Around midnight on Monday, a court sentenced him to 30 days in jail for calling demonstrators to Tverskaya."...

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6962, Navalny Organized Protest Draws Supporters But Is Easily Suppressed, June 15, 2017.

Navalny Undergoes Eye Operation in Spain, After Attack

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny travelled to Barcelona in order to undergo an operation on his right eye, following an attack in Moscow. As reported by the Moscow Times, in April, "a man sprayed antiseptic into Navalny’s face as he was exiting his office in Moscow. The substance got into Navalny’s right eye, resulting in what doctors later diagnosed to be a chemical burn… [Russian] officials issued Navalny a passport to allow him to travel abroad, despite the two suspended criminal sentences he is currently serving out in Russia. Navalny’s lawyer initially reported that prison authorities warned Navalny against leaving the country, but a spokesperson for the Moscow City Court later clarified that the two convictions against the opposition leader do not forbid him from traveling outside Russia."

Navalny came back to Russia on May 11 after the eye surgery in Spain.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6924, Russia This Week – May 11-14, 2017, May 15, 2017.

A Special Task-Force Will Be Set Up To Fight Navalny As If He Was Hitler

he English-language media outlet The Moscow Times reported that a Russian University screened a video comparing Navalny to Hitler. The Moscow Times wrote: "The Vladimir State University packed an auditorium with students and showed them a short film comparing Navalny to Adolf Hitler, followed by a lecture from Alla Byba, the head of a regional anti-extremism school. In what has become a familiar routine over the past month, Byba chastised and insulted the young people in the room for showing interest in Navalny and for daring to challenge her presentation of his politics. 'First of all, you must understand perfectly well that there are the political ambitions of a certain circle of people at play here,' Byba told her captive audience. 'You're also aware that every teacher in every class right now is talking about how there is a targeted war going on against the Russian Federation. Information war, cyber-war, and they're betting on the youth. It's not for nothing that the Internet is used for very intense recruiting efforts by terrorist organizations.'

"When students in the crowd started criticizing the film and her remarks, Byba denied that she had come to indoctrinate anyone, saying the university had merely invited her to speak.

"But when students asked to see Navalny's video detailing corruption allegations against Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Byba flatly refused, pretending not to understand why they wished to see it. And when a student called her a liar, Byba became infuriated, responding, 'Your behavior is disgusting. You have no sense of tact at all, and it saddens me that you're such a ill-bred person.'"

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6893, Russia This Week – April 20 - 25, 2017, April 25, 2017.

Russia's Anti-Corruption Protests – An Update

On March 26, 2017, Russians took to the streets in anti-governments rallies, organized by opposition politician Alexey Navalny, who recently announced his candidacy for the 2018 presidential elections. The demonstrations marked the 17th anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin's rise to power on March 26, 2000. The demonstrators were protesting corruption in Russia, following the investigation of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, headed by Navalny, into Russian Prime-Minister Dmitry Medvedev extensive property holdings. The day of the protests, Navalny was detained within the first 15 minutes of the Moscow march. On March 27, Moscow's Tverskoy court imposed a 15-day jail sentence on Navalny for resisting arrest at an unauthorized rally. Earlier, Navalny had also been fined 20,000 rubles ($350). He was freed from jail on April 10.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6868, Russia's Anti-Corruption Protests – An Update, April 10, 2017.

Navalny Leads Russia's Anti-Government-Corruption Protests

On March 26, 2017, Russians took to the streets in anti-governments rallies, organized by opposition politician Alexey Navalny, who recently announced his candidacy for the 2018 presidential elections. The demonstrations marked the 17th anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin's rise to power on March 26, 2000. The demonstrators were protesting corruption in Russia, following Navalny's investigation into Russian Prime-Minister Dmitry Medvedev extensive property holdings. The unauthorized protests were held in 87 cities across the country. St. Petersburg and Moscow were the focal cities of the peaceful protests. The police estimated that those participating in the Moscow rally alone numbered 6000-8000. Opposition sources insist that scores of thousands were at the march. The Russian media outlet Gazeta.ru reported that many young people, who have never witnessed a change in power previously, participated to the protests.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6850, Navalny Leads Russia's Anti-Government-Corruption Protests, March 29, 2017.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6853, Russia This Week – March 19 - 30, 2017, April 3, 2017.

New Navalny Investigation Accuses Medvedev Of Corruption

On March 2, 2017, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, established by anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny in 2011, published on its website a new investigation into Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The website reported: "The interactive website and video (with English subtitles) tell the story of the corrupt empire of the chairman of the government of the Russian Federation and the United Russia party Dmitry Medvedev. Some ironically call him pathetic, and use 'Dimon' instead of his full name. But he is not pathetic. Through his puppet 'charity foundations,' Dmitry Medvedev owns real estate around the country, controls giant plots of land in the most elite districts, enjoys yachts and apartments in pre-revolutionary mansions, and receives profits from agricultural companies and vineyards, both in Russia and abroad."

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6826, New Navalny Investigation Accuses Medvedev Of Corruption, March 10, 2017.

Navalny Convicted In Retrial, Pledges To Continue Presidential Campaign

Following a retrial prompted by the European Court of Justice, a court in Kirov again found Aleksey Navalny guilty of embezzlement in the Kirovles case and imposed a five-year suspended sentence.

Navalny's co-defendant in the retrial, Pyotr Ofitserov, also received a suspended sentence of four years. The court also obligated Navalny and Ofitserov to pay 500,000-ruble fines each. Navalny said that he will protest the court's ruling.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6799, Russia This Week – February 13 - 20, 2017, February 13, 2017.

Echo Of Moscow Interviews Russia's Anti-Corruption Crusader Navalny Following His Announcement That He Will Run For President In 2018

In December 2016, Russian opposition activist and anti-corruption crusader Alexey Navalny announced that he intended to run for president of Russia in the 2018 presidential election. During an interview with Russian journalist and co-owner of the independent Echo of Moscow radio station, Alexey Venediktov, Navalny confirmed his intention to run. In 2013, Navalny ran in Moscow's mayoral elections and finished second. Prior to the elections, Navalny was found guilty of embezzling timber from a state-owned company, when he served as an unpaid consultant to the governor of Russia's Kirov region. He was originally sentenced to five years in prison, but the sentence was later suspended. The Russian Supreme Court overturned the decision in November 2016 and thus cleared the way for Navalny to present his presidential bid. The court's presidium began a reexamination of Navalny's case following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that Navalny's right to a fair trial had been violated. A retrial of the case is currently pending.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6756, Echo Of Moscow Interviews Russia's Anti-Corruption Crusader Navalny Following His Announcement That He Will Run For President In 2018, January 26, 2017.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6761, Russia This Week – January 13- 29, 2017, January 29, 2017.

 

 

[1] Tvrain.ru, June 14, 2017.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6799, Russia This Week – February 13 - 20, 2017, February 13, 2017.

[2] Facebook.com/andrey.loshak, June 12, 2017

[3] Rbc.ru, June 9, 2017