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 1:42 PM
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
James Brooke
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.
 

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid