Andrei Liakhov: “Subject: Navalny saga: What does it mean?”
Subject: Navalny saga: What does it mean?
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 2021
From: Andrei Liakhov <email@example.com>
In its article dated 9 December 2011 New York Times described Navalny as a representative of the movement uniting skinheads and neonazis and mentioned an early Nalavny video where he called for physical elimination of Caucasian militants. I think it is the most accurate description of the real Navalny and not the “blogger/Russian opposition leader” image of him cultivated by Western media.
Irrespective of what he actually is, his arrest (which was inevitable on the publicly available information) is a very important milestone in Russian political life. It would be true to say that being a lawyer, and having a very able legal team behind him he understand the inevitability of the arrest and revocation of bail.
Why has he chosen prison over emigration then?
We need to understand who is Mr.Navalny first and my reference to his early NYT description above is only one side (even though might be the most important to understand what he really is) of “Navalny Inc.”. Navalny Inc has two most obvious sides – an investigative blogger and an opposition figure with presidential ambitions who openly challenges Vladimir Putin personally.
The result is that he has a very contradictory reputation. Most of his (particularly early) investigations concern matters of public interest and importance and require investigations irrespective of rank and personalities of their “heroes”. However electing for President a person openly supporting neonazi views and being openly supported and financed by the collective West is certainly not in the best interests of Russia and its people. At least that what seems to be the prevailing view of the majority of Russians who hate corruption but equally resent Navalny who is trying to champion this major national desease for his personal gains and benefits.
The latter is probably the decisive factor in any attempt to make any forecast about his future and his influence on political life. With several unspent convictions (The number of which is bound to increase) and having served jail time he will never qualify to run for President. This I hope is clearly understood by his backers and financiers as well. Chances that a new Duma (elections in December) would pass amendments to laws allowing Navalny to run are close to zero.
Thus any discussions about his possible bid for presidency are theoretical at best.
This means that Navalny Inc poses a threat (whether real or imagined) to the ruling regime only as the investigative blogger using information largely supplied by Western intelligence agencies, plethora of scamsters and embezzlers who at different times fled from Russia (for example the bulk of his “Putin Palance” film is based on information made public by Sergey Kolesnikov in 2011 who fled from Russia to Estonia in 2010) and several easily purchased on the black market databases. And FBK is centered around Alexey Navalny and should he choose to remain in emigration he would have been able to continue making his films, receive grants, run in the mornings and live a happy life.
Instead he decides to to return to Russia and chooses to go to jail for at at least 2 years and 8 months. He would hardly be able to shoot any films from jail. Why then the not so obvious choice?
One possible explanation is that investigative blogger Navalny Inc has already completed its main task and is closing down. “Prominent opposition figure” has no chance of becoming President, and “Putin palace” film is his swan song. There is very little he can surprise the Russian public with. Particularly in the enovironment where stories about investigations of various corruption scandals are a regular feature on every Russian TV channel, state and opposition alike. And electronic media is full of them as well. Not that NYT, the Economist, the Times, WSJ, CNN, the Guardian ever take notice of that.
It seems that his next role is that of a “divine sacrifice” in a Russian GULAG. You can easily imagine what would happen if god forbid he would accidentally poison himself, get a nasty cough, slip in a shower or bless his souls would die while inside???
Let’s guess for a second:
1. The EU and the US will immediately pass a “Navalny Act” seeking to strangle Putin, his friends and Russia in general with sanctions. NS-2 problems would seem a child’s play in comparison;
2. An “innocently murdered saint Alexey” myth will be peddled from every window in the West. The story line will be that “Saint Alexey” has suffered from bloody KGBists for Russia and human kind.
3. This myth will be promoted by a person who has not taken any part in any scandals surrounding Navalny. And it seems that his wife is destined to be this flag bearer. This is nothing new – few will remember the first attempt (Marina Litvinenko) which failed because of the excessive greed of the bearer and the second attempt (Tikhanovskaya) which is failing because the bearer is manifestly ill fitted for the purpose. Mrs. Navalnaya is elegant, well educated, helped her husband in his work and is well connected with the establishment (reportedly comes from diplomilitary/intelligence family background) . She is better fitted for “President Julia” role than Litvinenko or Tikhanovskaya. If her presidential campaign is supported by creative vote counting (tried and tested in Belarus and the US) and the level of social discontent in 2024 is such that many voters would vote for anybody but a candidate supported by the ruling party, than we could, at least see a repetition of either 2013/14 Ukrainian events or “a reincarnation of BLM in Russian” or in the mild version, yellow-black and white Navalny marches Belarus style….
The irony of the situation is that no one could be more interested in keeping Navalny in sound mind and perfect health than President Putin and the ruling regime. It does not take a rocket scientist to guess that conditions during his prison stay would marginally differ from a stay at Marriott Aurora or Intercontinental Hotel Moscow. I am sure that Navalny backers have had this explained to him before he boarded his Pobeda flight to Matroskaya Tishina detention center. There is one additional indicator that this is exactly what is happening: every person who is sentenced to a pre-trial detention by a Moscow court must spend first 2 weeks in detention center No.7 chosen as Covid quarantine facility. It is one of the oldest DCs in Moscow and shall we say lags far behind Lefortovo and Matrosskya Tishina in comfort, amenities and general conditions. Navalny avoided that and was housed straight in Matrosskaya Tishina.
As an epilogue I would like to advise Alexey to decline to accept trunks and other underware items in parcels to be sent to his prison cell by his FBK mates, foreign diplomats and other similar visitors. And God forbid him having tea with British embassy officers – Litvinenko ghost is always handing somewhere close by ……