News / Europe

Russia’s Navalny: From Protests to Prison to Politics

Russia’s Navalny: From Street Protests to Prison to Politicsi
X
August 05, 2013
Russia’s street protests have faded. President Vladimir Putin has another five years in the Kremlin. What has happened to Russia’s opposition? James Brooke reports from Moscow.

Russia’s Navalny: From Street Protests to Prison to Politics

TEXT SIZE - +
Last year, Alexei Navalny led street rallies against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
This year, President Putin pushed back.
 
Navalny was tried on charges of stealing timber.  Two weeks ago, he was convicted and sentenced to five years behind bars.  The sentence knocked Russia’s most popular opposition leader out of the country's next presidential election in 2018.
 
Then the unexpected occurred.  The morning after going to jail, Navalny was released to run for mayor of Moscow, Russia’s largest city.  He is up against Sergei Sobyanin,  Putin's former chief of staff, who was appointed mayor three years ago.
 
“They want Moscow elections to be legitimate, to legitimize Sergei Sobyanin, and to get him re-elected having at least some viable opponent,” said, Lilia Shevtsova, who analyzes Russian politics for Carnegie Moscow Center, referring to Kremlin strategists. “And at the same time, they would like to play a chess game and to undermine Navalny’s potential, and they believe this is still possible.”
 
Sobyanin wants to earn the mayor's title in elections scheduled for September 8.
Out on the street, there is strong support for Sobyanin, who is changing Moscow, creating new pedestrian streets, cutting traffic into downtown, rebuilding parks, and tearing down billboards and outdoor advertising.
 
Vagan Davidyants, a lawyer, has his office on one of the new car-free streets.
 
“For the last two years we have seen the changes, and I think he is at the halfway mark of his job, his plans,” he said one day after work. “So I think we have to give him the next four years or five years to do all the things he planned to do.  Because two years is not enough, he’s on the first step of his changes for Moscow.  So I’m going to vote for him.”
 
Yuliya Zueva, a pedicab driver, also likes the changes she sees. She said that Sobyanin did a good job running an oil-rich region of Russia five years ago and that now, he is making positive changes in Moscow.
 
Navalny is blocked from state-run television.  His supporters communicate and raise money through the Internet.  Others say Russia needs a change, what they call more political fresh air.
 
Maria, a retired theater director, voiced her support for Navalny as she stopped by a sidewalk campaign tent.
 
“I’m voting for Navalny, and not because he’s some kind of superhero, but because I think that he’s a real person,” she said. 
 
Igor Tarasov, an IT worker, was handing out leaflets for Navalny and said, “With him the government will become more transparent, more democratic, and more pro-Western.”
 
But then a policeman intervened to stop volunteers from handing out the leaflets.
Later, Tarasov told VOA that the officer first wanted to arrest him, but that in a compromise, said only one person would be allowed to distribute the leaflets.
 
In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, old habits die hard.  Many people predict that, once the mayoral election is over, the Kremlin will return Navalny to prison.
 
But this time, he would go bolstered by the votes of tens - maybe hundreds -- of thousands of people in the nation’s capital.
 

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid