News / Europe

Russia’s Navalny: From Protests to Prison to Politics

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

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Tattoos, hookah bars and doughnuts? Google Maps lays out what people really have on their minds during the holiday

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs