With an Election Looming, Another Challenger to Vladimir Putin Finds Himself Neutralized
All I’m saying is…
This guy really needs to watch his back.
The “this guy” in question would be Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption activist who was shaping up to be a pretty formidable challenge to Vladimir Putin’s presidency.
Putin is running for his fourth term and Navalny was his only real competition, but the Kremlin’s Central Election Commission has disqualified him from running, due to a conviction in a fraud case.
That particular fraud case, according to the Associated Press, is widely considered to be in retribution for his activism against Putin’s regime.
Over the past year, Navalny has mounted a grassroots campaign which reached out to the most remote corners of Putin’s heartland.
Navalny is the most serious challenger that Putin has faced in all his years in power, and the court cases against him have been viewed as a tool to keep him from running for office.
Yeah. That might not be a bad thing, given the alternative.
There’s this crazy coincidence of Putin challengers finding themselves either imprisoned, exiled, or dead.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, supporter of the opposition party against Putin was imprisoned for 10 years on charges of tax evasion and fraud.
Khodorkovsky, a business magnate, claims the charges were trumped up by the Kremlin, in order to take control of his oil company, Yukos.
He was released in 2013, a year earlier than his sentence, in what many viewed as an attempt to improve the image of the Russian government ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Anna Politkovskaya was a journalist and critic of the Russian war in Chechnya. She was shot 4 times in the doorway to her Moscow apartment. Many believe her writings of the human rights abuses going on in Chechnya angered the Russian authorities. Putin has denied any Kremlin involvement in her killing.
Probably most talked about was the death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian agent who suffered the slow, painful death of radioactive poisoning. His tea was spiked with polonium in a London hotel, while meeting with two former Russian security servicemen.
After Litvinenko left the Russian Federal Security Service he accused the agency of being behind a series of Russian apartment bombings in 1999 and were the impetus for Russia’s invasion of Chechnya.
Those are just a sample of the cases Navalny had better keep in mind.
After the Election Commission announced their decision, Navalny reached out to his supporters in a recorded message, suggesting they boycott the election, scheduled for March 18, 2018.
“The procedure that we’re invited to take part is not an election,” he said. “Only Putin and the candidates he has hand-picked are taking part in it.”
“Going to the polls right now is to vote for lies and corruption.”
And yes, the Election Commission rubbed it in.
Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova told Navalny ahead of its vote to bar him that “maybe we would be interested if you were running,” but said the conviction doesn’t allow the commission to put him on the ballot.
Yeah. That’s cold. And they basically told him ahead of time that the deck was stacked against him. The vote was simply a formality.
Speaking before the vote, Navalny told the commission that their decision to bar him would be a vote “not against me, but against 16,000 people who have nominated me, against 200,000 volunteers who have been canvassing for me.”
Your efforts are noble, guy, but you’re living in Putin’s Russia. If you want to keep on living in Russia, it may be time to step back.