Convicted Russian opposition leader tries to become a mayor of Moscow

Posted: Simona Motuzaitė Date: 2013-07-23 02:50

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Alexei Navalny © Wikimedia Commons

Because of his rhetoric and charisma during the past few years Alexei Navalny has become one of the most important leaders of the opposition who supervised the unprecedented protests against president Vladimir Putin.

A. Navalny has become an expressive leader in protests against V. Putin by successfully using the Moscow street slang which helps to build a close relationship with the public. His anti-corruption campaign has attracted a lot of followers on the Internet. Oppositionist Alexei accused such influential persons as Chairman of The Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Alexander Bastrykin, and Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov. But he still needs to expand his popularity beyond the limits of Moscow at the national level. It is known that the majority of the Russian people have not even heard about this leader of opposition.

37-years-old Alexei Navalny is a lawyer of a new generation. He quickly realized the growing importance of the Internet in Russian politics. He tried to increase the intrigue before the start of his scandalous case of the proceedings in April when he stated that he intends to register as candidate for president.

Since the spring charismatic Russian opposition protest leader is often required to come to a court and he says that his case is the result of President Vladimir Putin’s order and revenge for Alexei’s strong challenge to Kremlin politics.

This case is the latest of those in Russia by V. Putin’s opponents called “the Soviet-style” orchestrated political process through which previously both have been sent to jail – business tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky for resisting to the Kremlin and members of radical girls punk group Pussy Riot. Liberal former finance minister Alexei Kudrin who is respected in Russia wrote in his blog about A. Navalny’s case that it is a “time travel” back to the Soviet times.

Alexei Navalny was suspected of the funds embezzlement and threatened with 10 years in prison. He predicted that he is going to be convicted and possibly sent to jail and warned that it is only a matter of time when V. Putin will lose the power.

When Alexei became the governor of the Kirov region in 2009 he recommended discharging director Vyacheslav Opalev and judging him for the corruption. Before the lawyer came to the region he was already known as a fighter with the corruption and “Kirovles” had more than 200 million rubles ($6 million dollars) loss. A. Navalny said that he proposed to efficiently organize Kirovles’ work, selling timber through intermediaries, and he participated in this conspiracy as an unpaid consultant for local administrations.

V. Opalev was eventually fired and prosecuted but avoided a prison sentence in 2012, accusing A. Navalny, in that time one of the most prominent figures in the protest movement, of conspiracy to commit abduction of large-scale state property. That was enough to start the trial and Alexei had spent a lot of time traveling more than 900 kilometers from Moscow to Kirov and back.

The attorney Sergey Blinov who is studying the case of Alexei Navalny, is Lenin’s district court deputy. A lawyer has issued 25 indictments cases and every one of them was said to be guilty of the crimes.

On July 17th the court acknowledged that the 37-year-old A. Navalny led the group who has abducted 16 million rubles ($500 thousand dollars) of state property. In the process, the opposition leader demonstrated that the timber was not stolen but sold through an intermediary and settled with Kirovles properly. Many people find it suspicious that the court denied the defense argument about “Kirovles” ineffective action on the basis of already convinced V. Opalev arguments. After a couple of days Alexei Navalny was released after he signed a written pledge not to leave the country before the court will consider the appeal.

In Manezh Square in Moscow where unauthorized opposition protest had to take place suddenly works of replacing pavement started. This is usual and often used tactic by Russian authorities to prevent protesters from gathering. Mass protest demonstrations supporting A. Navalny were held in another evening in Moscow and other Russian cities.

Alexei Navalny expects that the current political system will collapse but is aware that it may take several years. Currently he identifies the pursuit to make this happen as soon as possible as a top priority. A. Navalny advises that it is essential to develop additional anti-corruption scheme to European and Russian projects particularly in those related to the energy sector. Large Russian corporations projects should be checked by the schemes of fight against corruption similar to the assessments that are carried out on the effect on the environment (for example, pipeline projects).
Alexei Navalny supports the idea of projects by the EU and Russian companies but believes that the business collaboration and opportunities for laundering money and EU providing dirty money for investment are different things.

It was announced that if Alexei Navalny found guilty he could not participate in the presidential election on September 8th and in any other elections. Court’s decision to release A. Navalny means that he gets rid of formal obstacles for the Moscow mayor’s election. Russian opposition figure returned to Moscow on Saturday and was enthusiastically welcomed after unexpectedly released from prison. A. Navalny and his wife Julia got out of the night train coming from Kirov city in which the opposition leader was judged. He was met by a crowd of cheering supporters shouting his name and holding bouquets of flowers. On that day A. Navalny said to hundreds of his supporters about the continuing efforts to become the mayor of Moscow.

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