News / USA

Young Lawyer Leads Fight Against Corruption in Russia

Corporate Russian lawyer Alexei Navalny poses in his office in Moscow, Russia (File 2010)
Corporate Russian lawyer Alexei Navalny poses in his office in Moscow, Russia (File 2010)
James Brooke

With oil earnings flooding into Russia, corruption is at a record high.  Transparency International ranks Russia on a par with Cambodia and the Central African Republic as being among the most corrupt countries in the world.  But a 34-year-old lawyer is taking on the system.

Tapping on the keyboard of a computer laptop, Alexei Navalny is known as the biggest whistleblower on corruption in Russia.  Not an easy road to travel in a country ranked  as one of the world’s most corrupt nations.

But this is an election year in Russia.  Out-of-control corruption tops the list of concerns of Russia’s growing middle class.

Navalny, a standard bearer of Russia’s post-Soviet generation says corruption is now everywhere in Russia.

High level corruption rarely makes an appearance on television because the Kremlin tightly controls TV news in Russia.  As a result, Navalny uses the Internet, still largely free.

Last fall, while Navalny was on a fellowship at Yale University, he posted documents on his blog alleging that officials at Transneft, Russia’s state oil pipeline company, had stolen $4 billion earmarked for the construction of Russia’s first pipeline to China.

He says his blog registered one million visitors, and several thousand people posted comment.  Facing that kind of audience, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for an investigation into Transneft.

After 700,000 on-line viewers watched a Navalny debate on corruption, censored from state-controlled television, Russia’s political split was clear: between the young, "Youtube" generation and the older TV generation.

On his website, Navalny calls United Russia, the party of Prime Minister Putin, “the party of thieves and crooks.”

The head of Transparency International's Russia office, Elena Panfilova, says the Internet allows Navalny to draw thousands of supporters to his anti-corruption campaign.

“It is all about personal courage and certain way of understanding," said Panfilova. "I believe people back him and support him.  He has incredible sense of how to find information, and he does not over-extend himself.”

Panfilova says Navalny’s popularity reflects growing anger in Russia over corruption by government employees.

“The ultimate goal of those activities of Alexei and ours, is to change the bigger policy of governance,” she said.

Russian officials respond in different ways.  President Dmitry Medvedev, who is expected to position himself as a reformist in presidential elections next March, now speaks out against corruption.

At a meeting broadcast on national television March 30, he warned state officials: “Corruption’s grip is not weakening, it has the whole economy by the throat.”
Transneft, the state pipeline company, has taken a different position, taking Navalny to court.  
Transneft spokesman Igor Demin, referring to Navalny as a "fascist," says the figure of  $4 billion comes from what he calls "lazy" journalism.

In a country where crusading journalists and lawyers often end up dead, Navalny says he is not scared and will not back down.

“If everyone was scared, we would have a hard time living,” he said.

All the same, Navalny says he has given his wife a list of telephone numbers to call, just in case he disappears.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs