01/19/2021, 09.18
RUSSIA
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Naval’ny's condemnation inaugurates the anti-Putin electoral campaign

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The blogger’s arrest, broadcast on amateur video streams all over the world, making him a symbol of popular will. The grotesque comments of Minister Lavrov. EU, US and others call for Naval’nyj’s release. His supporters come from all parts of the Federation.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Blogger Alexei Navalnyj, who returned to his homeland five months after being poisoned in Siberia, was sentenced yesterday to one month in prison, for breaking his parole set in a 2014 trial.

He is being kept in the police station near Sheremetyevo airport, where he was arrested the previous evening as soon as he got off the plane, in defiance of any legal procedure. All this took place under a portrait of Henrich Jagoda, the head of the NKVD (KGB) during the Stalinist purges (photo 1).

After the hijacking of the Navalnyj plane, the circumstances of his arrest, detention and sentencing were decidedly awkward. What's more, they were broadcast around the world thanks to the videos of his supporters. The authorities have been thrown into absolute panic faced with their opponent’s increasingly popular personality who is beginning to assume the aspect of the people’s leader and not just marginal groups.

Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov (photo 3), usually a very controlled politician in his expressions even gave way to unusually grotesque comments. He held a press conference lashing out at "Western politicians, who have clung to Naval'nyj's return, commenting on it according to their scripts ... In this way they think of diverting attention from the very deep crisis in the liberal development model". The minister refused to explain these concepts, despite the pressures of journalists, suggesting that an epochal game is being played on the figure of Naval’nyj on the very concept of democracy.

Many Western leaders - from the leaders of the European Union to the new American president Joe Biden - have called for the release of Navalnyj, prompting another sensational response from Lavrov, according to which "US policy tries in every way to prevent the Russia and China unite to the point of becoming stronger than America”, comparing the fate of the arrested blogger to the broader scenarios of geopolitics.

The out of place reactions of the Russian authorities to the return of Navalnyi actually mark the opening of the campaign for the parliamentary elections to be held this year, and the opponent’s arrest has also been called the "day of the inauguration of the anti-president”, two days ahead of the troubled inauguration of the American president.

One year after the announcement of Putinian's constitutional changes (15 January 2020), the ruling regime in Russia appears to be seriously questioned, and the new constitution approved on 1 July does not seem sufficient to guarantee its conservation in aeternum by itself.

Not only local activists gathered in Moscow to welcome Navalnyj, but also many groups from all over the country, and in particular from the Siberian regions, including the winners of the elections held shortly after the poisoning in Tomsk (Ksenja Fadeeva ) and in Novosibirsk (Sergej Bojko), together with representatives from almost all locations in Asian Russia, also taking advantage of the lowered air fares due to the pandemic.

At Vnukovo airport, where the landing from Berlin was originally planned, over 2,000 people had gathered, many of whom managed to reach Sheremetyevo before the access highway to the airport was closed. Bojko (photo 4) commented saying that "now we must prepare for all kinds of repression, up to the deprivation of freedom". In many cities in Siberia and the Far East, Naval’ny supporters organized individual pickets for the release of their leader.

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