Volunteer writer Leah Langley explains who Alexie Navalny is, and why he’s in the news so often
Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition leader, a politician, a lawyer, and is perhaps best known for anti-corruption activism. Navalny is the leader of the Russia of the Future parts and he also founded the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). He is known globally for organising demonstrations against the Russian government and for advocating reforms, in contradiction of corruption in Russia, by running for office. President Vladimir Putin does not address Navalny by name and is said to fear him more than any other man.
A YouTube channel with more than six million subscribers, and a Twitter profile of more than two million followers, are the means used by Navalny to expose corruption in Russia, endorse his campaigns, and he also uses the channels to organise political demonstrations. He is a very controversial figure in Russia as he publishes the things that the government wants keeping secret. He has published many investigations, alongside the FBK, in which he described alleged corruption by top Russian officials.
No stranger to the wraths of the Russian government, Navalny has received two suspended sentences for embezzlement which are widely believed to be politically motivated in an attempt to prevent him from being able to run in any elections. December 2016 saw Navalny launch his campaign for the 2018 presidential election however, Russia’s Central Electoral Commission later barred him due to his prior convictions. Navalny and FBK released ‘He Is Not Dimon to You’, a documentary accusing Dmitry Medvedev, the then prime minister and former Russian president, of corruption, in March 2017. The documentary release saw mass protests all over the country. In 2018, he introduced the Smart Voting Strategy which aimed to deny the ruling party of seat in elections.
Navalny was hospitalised in August 2020 after he was poisoned with a nerve agent, an event for which he accused Putin of being responsible. An investigation into the attack implicated Federal Security Service Agents. He returned to Russia on January 17th, 2021 and was immediately detained for violating parole conditions that were put in place following his 2014 conviction. Whilst under arrest another of his documentaries, ‘Putin’s Palace’, was released. The documentary accused Putin of corruption and resulted in mass protests across the country. On February 2nd, Navalny’s suspended statements was changed to a prison sentence for which he will spend more than two years in a penal colony. The case was based on Navalny’s failure to regularly report to police during 2020 despite the authorities being aware that he was receiving emergency treatment in Berlin following the nerve agent attack Navalny argued that the case had been fabricated to silence him.
Russian Police have detained Navalny’s wife and his top FBK assistants, and many of his supporters have been left questioning whether he will still be able to organise from jail.
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Article edited by Connor Wade – Politics Editor