Navalny supporters face full force of Kremlin wrath - Politics | PoFo

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The Financial Times wrote:
Supporters of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny say they are facing unprecedented pressure to end their backing for President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opponent, as a Moscow court is poised to designate their organisation an “extremist” movement on a par with jihadi group al-Qaeda.

A closed court hearing on Monday is expected to uphold a request by prosecutors to declare Navalny’s organisation “extremist” — a move that would cut it off from funding and could result in 10-year prison sentences for members.

The onslaught against Navalny’s dozens of offices across Russia “will evidently make their activity impossible”, Leonid Volkov, the opposition leader’s chief of staff, told the Financial Times.

The “extremist” designation appeared designed at shutting the offices down in one fell swoop, he said.

“It essentially bans them from doing anything whatsoever,” said Pavel Chikov, head of legal aid foundation Agora, which represents several people facing prosecution after January’s mass nationwide protests in support of Navalny.

“It’s a ban on any public activity, on publicly mentioning [the group] — it’s basically one step away from saying that mentioning Navalny’s name is extremist.”

They’re right to think our regional offices can catalyse the vote against them. They understand our . . . investigations won’t go away even if they designate [us] extremist, terrorist and Satanist

Ahead of the expected ruling, activists working for the opposition leader say they are in a state of siege. Some have shut down their local offices, while others have begun scrubbing their presence from Russian social media sites owned by Kremlin-friendly companies.

Police have stepped up the pressure since January’s protests, which called for Navalny’s release from jail, where he is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a case widely seen as an attempt to neutralise his influence. Several have spent short stints in prison, while others say they have faced increasingly severe intimidation tactics.

In Rostov, a city near the border with Ukraine, local office co-ordinator Ksenia Seredkina said unknown men took her away in the middle of the night and tried to force her to suck a rubber baton — scratching a letter N for Navalny on her arm each time she refused.

In Murmansk, someone slipped a target from a shooting range into Violetta Grudina’s mailbox and left her neighbours flyers warning she was “perverting children,” she said.

“I’m under fire. How else are you supposed to interpret a target?” said Grudina, who runs Navalny’s office in the city on the Barents Sea 2,000km north of Moscow.

Since he emerged to lead the anti-Putin opposition in 2011, Navalny has shown himself remarkably willing to take official reprisals. After recovering in Germany from a nerve-agent poisoning he alleges was ordered by Putin, he returned to Russia in January in the full knowledge he would be arrested as soon as he arrived.

Previously, he had spent 13 stints in jail for protesting against the Kremlin, been physically attacked several times and saw his brother Oleg jailed for three and a half years for fraud, a move Navalny said amounted to “hostage-taking”.

Putin, who denies any involvement in Navalny’s poisoning, has said the activist is a western agent bent on destroying Russia. Last week, in a clear reference to US and EU calls for Navalny’s release, the president pledged an “asymmetric” and “tough” response if they imposed any measures that crossed Moscow’s “red lines”.

The move against Navalny’s foundation and regional network suggest the Kremlin wants to silence the opposition leader for good. A few of his top allies recently fled Moscow for Europe, while police recently detained several staff at his regional offices and a number of opposition activists in Moscow. Further arrests were made at the weekend.

The situation is particularly tough for Navalny’s supporters in the regions, where there is little to no independent media and few civil society groups putting pressure on local authorities.

In Murmansk, a January rally that attracted 2,000 people was “a total record for the last 20 years”, Grudnina said. When she told friends privately she wanted to run for the city council, Navalny’s office in Murmansk was ransacked by unknown assailants who spray-painted swastikas on the walls and sealed the doors with construction foam. Shortly afterwards, her assistant was detained on drug trafficking charges.

Volkov said the Kremlin wanted to stop Navalny’s “smart voting” strategy for September’s parliamentary elections, in which his regional offices endorse candidates from the official opposition parties with the best chance of beating Putin’s United Russia.

“[The Kremlin] don’t know what to do with their low approval ratings, and they’re right to think that our regional offices can catalyse the vote against them,” Volkov said. “They understand that our anti-corruption investigations won’t go away even if they designate [Navalny’s organisation] extremist, terrorist and Satanist.”

Recently police have shown an increasing willingness to expand their focus to Navalny’s grassroots supporters — particularly among young people.

Ahead of last week’s protest, several said on social media that police had put pressure on their parents to sign documents noting that they faced criminal prosecution if their children attended the rally. Other supporters reported receiving threats after an email database from Navalny’s website was leaked online.

In Murmansk, however, Grudina is determined to find a way to continue her activism.

“Would even one Putin supporter go to a protest for him if they knew they’d get beaten with batons and thrown in jail or given kilometre-long fines? No. That’s the difference between us — we are sincerely standing up for our views,” she said. “We’re the last bastion of freedom, honesty, and justice.”
This is very scary stuff. This is more scary than the entire presidency of Donald Trump--that was more farcical-- this is some dark shit.

I sometimes ask myself why people in Russia don't do anything, but, what could they even do? Also, lack of political opposition creates a sense of apathy surrounding politics, so that one just focuses on their day to day existence, and so long as your material needs are met, maybe you could convince yourself things aren't that bad.
Russia had a chance with Gorbachev and Yeltsin. They were tasting freedom, their economy was recovering from dog shit. Then this asswipe Putin happened.

Makes you wonder what the new Russian people were thinking when they elected a former KGB agent. You know, because they wouldn't EVER want to see the Hammer and Sickle fly over the Kremlin again...
World Socialist Website wrote
Amid mounting military tensions in the Black Sea region and a diplomatic crisis between the US and Russia, the EU and the Biden administration have stepped up yet again the campaign over the right-wing anti-Putin oppositionist Alexei Navalny.

Navalny was sentenced to over two years in prison in February after he returned to Russia from Berlin where he had spent several months after allegedly being poisoned in August. Between August and January, the American and German press was filled with ongoing reports about the alleged attempt of Russian President Vladimir Putin to murder him with the nerve agent Novichok. These allegations, presented as fact by the Western media, were, in fact, never proven and have been riddled with contradictions. Now the US and EU have stepped up the campaign over Navalny again. For the past three weeks, he has been on a hunger strike. His doctors now claim that his blood chemistry is so concerning that they believe that he could “die any moment.”

On Saturday, US President Joe Biden described the treatment of Navalny as “totally, totally unfair” and “totally inappropriate.” The White House said that there would be “consequences” should Navalny die while in detention. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki again emphasized, “What happens to Mr. Navalny in the custody of the Russian government is the responsibility of the Russian government. They will be held accountable by the international community.”

According to US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, “communication to the Russian government on this issue” would primarily proceed “privately and through diplomatic channels direct to the uppermost levels of the Russian government.”

The New York Times also published an editorial on Saturday, demanding that Putin allow Navalny to see his doctors in order to “save his life.”

Senator Bernie Sanders lost no time to line up behind the renewed campaign over Navalny, tweeting, “Make no mistake about what is happening here: activist Aleksei Navalny is being murdered in front of the world by Vladimir Putin for the crime of exposing Putin’s vast corruption. Navalny’s doctors must be allowed to see him immediately.”

In a similar vein, the high representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell, called upon the Kremlin to provide Navalny with the necessary medical treatment. Borrell said the EU was “very concerned” about his condition and that they held Russia “responsible” for it.

On Monday, it was reported that Navalny has now been transferred to a prison hospital but his staff insists that he was only transferred to a different penal colony.

Workers should reject the hypocritical campaign by the imperialist powers over the alleged mistreatment and “murder” of Navalny with the contempt that it deserves. The same politicians who now attack the Kremlin for alleged mistreatment of Navalny bear full responsibility for the year-long torture and illegal detainment of Julian Assange, a journalist and publisher who has exposed historic war crimes of US imperialism in the Middle East. If there is any political prisoner in the world who has been documented to really being tortured and murdered in slow motion by the state, it is Assange, and it is the US government that is primarily responsible.

The reality is that none of these imperialist politicians would care about Navalny if he had not been built up for more than a decade as a pro-capitalist opposition figure, capable of mobilizing layers within the Russian oligarchy, the state and upper middle class against Putin. While the New York Times and American and EU politicians present him as a “democratic” oppositionist, Navalny has well-documented connections to the Russian neo-Nazi scene.

He co-organized the notorious annual far-right Russian March for several years in a row and published rabidly racist propaganda videos on his YouTube channel, denouncing immigrants from the Caucasus as “cockroaches” that had to be “removed” like rotten teeth. He never apologized for or distanced himself from these far-right views and activities. In February, Amnesty International, no doubt facing enormous public pressure, felt compelled to revoke his status as a “prisoner of conscience” because of what they acknowledged was “hate speech.”

The renewed campaign over Navalny comes amidst mounting tensions between NATO and Russia over the conflict in Ukraine in the Black Sea region. Last week, the US recalled the planned deployment of two warships to the Black Sea. A Kremlin representative had earlier warned the US to “stay away from the Black Sea … for their own good.” However, shortly thereafter, on Thursday, US President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats. The Kremlin has since expelled 10 US diplomats in response. The Czech Republic, using a dubious explosion at an arms factory seven years ago as a pretext, has now also expelled 18 Russian diplomats as “spies,” the Kremlin retaliating by expelling 20 Czech diplomats. On Sunday, the UK announced that it would send two warships to the Black Sea.

Commenting on the rapid deterioration of US-Russia relations, Fyodor Lukyanov, one of the main foreign policy pundits in Russia with close ties to the Kremlin, wrote on Monday that “between Russia and the US there is basically no common agenda left apart from what they call ‘deconflicting’ [Syria, Ukraine] which is something that the military must take care of.” He noted that the back and forth in Washington with regard to Russia, including the proposal by Biden for a bilateral summit, indicated “chaos.” Lukyanov wrote, “we are witnessing the final demise of the relations between Moscow and Washington as they have existed” over the past decades. Moscow’s response, he argued, had to be an ever-stronger orientation toward an alliance with China.

As Russian-US relations have been breaking down rapidly, the Kremlin has been particularly concerned about Berlin’s heavy involvement in the campaign over Navalny. When Navalny fell ill on a plane in August, he was transferred to the Berlin hospital Charité following the direct intervention of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Last week, Der Spiegel magazine revealed that several leading German politicians, including Jürgen Trittin (Greens) and Nils Schmid (SPD), had written a letter to Navalny accusing the Russian government of “targeted torture” and expressing their “complete solidarity” with him.

Der Spiegel also reported that the Russian ambassador to Germany Sergei Nechaev made a formal visit to the German foreign ministry on February 16 to accuse the German government of having assisted Navalny in the production of a two-hour-long video which details corruption allegations against Putin. The video deliberately tapped into mass discontent over social inequality which, 30 years after the destruction of the USSR by the Stalinist bureaucracy, is higher in Russia than in any other major economy in the world. It has been watched by 116 million people.

On Monday, the Tagesspiegel published an interview with Alexei Gresko, a member of Navalny’s staff. Acting as if his team had not warned the world almost daily about Navalny’s imminent death from Novichok just months ago, he said, “We previously never dared speak about the possibility of his death. Now we are openly discussing that he might die.” He called upon the West to respond by showing “strength ... There has to be a response with financial consequences: The bank accounts of Putin’s supporters must be frozen. This is the only language that he and those he trusts can understand.”

These appeals make very clear what stands behind the campaign over Navalny: It is aimed at destabilizing the Putin regime by pressuring the oligarchs that still overwhelmingly back Putin, while mobilizing right-wing layers of the middle class behind a rival section of the oligarchy and imperialism. It is a part of a regime-change operation which is aimed at installing a right-wing, pro-Western government. The working class can only advance its own interests by basing its opposition to the oligarchic Putin regime on a socialist basis, completely independent from the machinations of imperialism and sections of the oligarchy.
Goranhammer wrote:Russia had a chance with Gorbachev and Yeltsin. They were tasting freedom, their economy was recovering from dog shit. Then this asswipe Putin happened.

Makes you wonder what the new Russian people were thinking when they elected a former KGB agent. You know, because they wouldn't EVER want to see the Hammer and Sickle fly over the Kremlin again...

Chance, you say? It was more like disaster. The greatest geopolitical disaster ever suffered by Russia. Gorbachev was a naive fool. Yeltsin an insufferable drunk. Yet Yeltsin did manage one achievement for which Russia will be forever grateful to him: he groomed Putin to succeed him.

If instead of Putin, Yeltsin had been succeeded by another drunken Yeltsin clone, or another clueless Gorbachev Russia would have been reduced to the principality of Moscovy; a rump leftover after independence of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia etc
The Russian people (men because women don't matter there) are puffed up pituitary cases. Putin makes them feel potent. Many were raised on the Soviet Union's bullshit macho trip and felt emasculated when it all went south.

Russia is not done. Putin knows that the key to keeping power is not to look like a democrat, it is to be an autocrat.
Politics_Observer wrote:@Drlee

I sure am glad I don't live in Russia or China. I wouldn't want to live in an autocratic system. I could care less about appearing macho or bad ass. I just want to have a happy life.

It is a completely different story where the choice is between autocracy and stability or anarchy and chaos. I believe it is too simplistic when Joe Russian is faulted for not opting for an option he knows from experience is not there. And it is not only Russians. Joe German of the Weimar Republic faced same bad choices. The Weimar Constitution saddled Joe German with nothing but chaos, inflation, wealth wipeouts, street brawls. Joe Russian has no experience with a functioning democracy that is stable, corruption free, with social safety nets.
Yeah, that's true. Herman the German back in the day had no experience of stable democracy and it is the case of Ivan the Russian today. Still, I am glad I was fortunate enough to have been born in the United States despite any flaws it may have.
It is a completely different story where the choice is between autocracy and stability or anarchy and chaos. I believe it is too simplistic when Joe Russian is faulted for not opting for an option he knows from experience is not there. And it is not only Russians. Joe German of the Weimar Republic faced same bad choices. The Weimar Constitution saddled Joe German with nothing but chaos, inflation, wealth wipeouts, street brawls. Joe Russian has no experience with a functioning democracy that is stable, corruption free, with social safety nets.

Well. I guess it always has been easier to accept a better bunk in the slave ship than to fight, and maybe die, for freedom and opportunity. You know what though. Accepting the chance that you might die so that others might have a future of freedom and opportunity is not a particularly new idea. It is though, a rare one. Oh that a few more Germans had been up to the challenge. They chose another path though. They chose to kill millions of people in service of their temporary comfort.
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