01/22/2021, 12.42
RUSSIA
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Battle between Putin and Naval'nyj, Russia’s 'Nelson Mandela'

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Russian sociologist Sergej Erofeev wants to nominate him for the Nobel Peace prize. Demonstrations in favour of the blogger activist. Authorities try to block protests. Film on "Putin's Palace" in Gelendzhik has already been seen by over 53 million viewers.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Alexei Navalnyj, arrested on 17 January on his return from Germany where he was treated after an attempted poisoning, is increasingly becoming a symbol of all opposition to Vladimir Putin, so much so that he is defined by some as the "Nelson Mandela" of Russia.

Sergej Erofeev, an important Russian sociologist who teaches in the USA, spoke on Radio Svoboda arguing that with the current detention the figure of Navalnyy is starting to resemble that of Nelson Mandela, and he has decided to campaign for Navalnyj's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is often awarded "to those who fight for the defence of human rights". According to Erofeev, the candidacy will be supported not only at an international level, but above all by "the entire Russian people".

Demonstrations are being held throughout Russia to demand the release of the activist blogger (photo 2), with many Russians abroad and citizens of various countries taking part (in Italy, in Rome, a demonstration is scheduled for tomorrow 23 January in Piazza del Pantheon, to coincide with a protest in Russia). The Russian authorities are trying to prevent the protests. The federal authority for communications control (Roskomnadzor) has demanded social platforms like TikTok and Vkontakte remove any information that could induce minors to take to the streets to join the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, the defense of Aleksej Naval'nyj yesterday filed an appeal to obtain the release of him, held in the Matrosskaja Tišina prison in Moscow with a sentence of one month. The appeal session of the Khimki court, where the sentence was pronounced, is scheduled for February 2.

Russia’s Prosecutor General has filed a case against German authorities, where Naval’ny went after the poisoning and where he was treated, because the necessary information was not provided to Russia. According to the prosecutor, Germany "is hiding the real circumstances of the incident". The prosecutor’s protest follows a similar diplomatic note from the Russian foreign ministry, which requested the results of tests on the bottle from which Naval'nyj was poisoned by Novichok.

Faced with international pressure demanding his immediate release, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declared that according to the presidency "there were all the legal grounds for Navalnyj's arrest", and denied in a contemptuous tone that Vladimir Putin may somehow be afraid of the arrested blogger, indeed "he was in Berlin, because Putin had personally decided to release".

When asked by journalists, Peskov replied that as long as Navalny was "Berlin patient" there was no need to ask him for an account of his actions, while once recovered, he must respond: "Since December 29 he was a wanted person". The spokesman justified the "shortened trial" in the rooms of the police headquarters at the airport with the particular anti-Covid provisions, which force the police to limit travel.

Naval’nyj collaborators have recently posted a report prepared by the blogger to YouTube, in his style, to denounce the corruption of power, this time directed against President Putin himself. The two-hour documentary Putin's palace: History of the biggest ever bribe on the Gelendzhik palace estimated at "39 times the size of the principality of Monaco", named after Putin's friends, and costing over a billion dollars (photo 3). The building was allegedly built by the Italian architect Lanfranco Cirillo (photo 4), who retired to Russia in the 1990s, like several other Italian entrepreneurs, at the time of the "Clean hands" investigation. To date, the documentary has been viewed over 53 million times, surpassing the other film denouncing the then Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his pomp in 2017, entitled He is no longer your Dimon.

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