Alexei Navalny

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Alexei Navalny
Alexey Navalny.jpg
Alexei Navalny in 2012
Born Alexei Anatolievich Navalny
(1976-06-04) June 4, 1976 (age 38)
Butyn, Odintsovsky District, Moscow Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Residence Moscow
Nationality Russian
Alma mater Peoples' Friendship University of Russia
Finance University under the Government of the Russian Federation
Yale University
Occupation Lawyer, activist, politician
Organization Anti-Corruption Foundation
Known for Political and social activism, blogging
Political party
Progress Party (2013–present)
Yabloko (2000–2007)
Movement various liberal, civic nationalist, and national democrat organizations
Opponent(s) Vladimir Putin and United Russia party
Board member of
Aeroflot (2012–2013)
Religion Russian Orthodox
Spouse(s) Yulia Navalnaya
Children 2
Awards Yale World Fellow (2010)
Website
navalny.com
recorded August 2013

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Alexei Anatolievich Navalny (Russian: Алексе́й Анато́льевич Нава́льный, Russian pronunciation: [ɐlʲɪkˈsʲej ɐnɐˈtolʲɪvʲɪtɕ nɐˈvalʲnɨj]), born June 4, 1976) is a Russian lawyer, political and financial activist,[1] and politician. Since 2009, he has gained prominence in Russia, and in the Russian and international media, as a critic of corruption and of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has organized large-scale demonstrations promoting democracy and attacking political corruption, Putin, and Putin's political allies; he has run for a political office on the same platform. In 2012, The Wall Street Journal described him as "the man Vladimir Putin fears most".[2]

A self-described nationalist democrat, Navalny is a Russian Opposition Coordination Council member and the leader of the political party Progress Party, formerly People's Alliance.[3][not in citation given] In September 2013 he ran in the Moscow mayoral election, supported by the RPR-PARNAS party. He came in second, with 27% of the vote, losing to incumbent mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a Putin appointee. His vote total was much higher than political analysts had expected, but Navalny and his allies insisted that the actual number was still higher, and that authorities had committed election fraud in order to prevent a runoff election from taking place.[4]

Navalny came to prominence via his blog, hosted on the website LiveJournal, which remains his primary method of communicating with the public. He has used his blog to attack Putin and his allies, to organize political demonstrations, to post documents showing Putin and his allies to be engaged in unsavory behavior and, most recently, to promote his campaigns for office. He has also been active in other media: most notably, in a 2011 radio interview he described Russia's ruling party, United Russia, as a "party of crooks and thieves", which soon became a popular epithet.[5]

Navalny has been arrested numerous times by Russian authorities, most seriously in 2012, when federal authorities accused him of three instances of embezzlement and fraud, all of which he denied.[6] In July 2013 he was convicted of embezzlement and was sentenced to five years in a corrective labor colony.[7][8] Russia's Memorial Human Rights Center recognized Navalny as a political prisoner.[9] Navalny was released from prison a day after sentencing.[10] The prison fine was suspended in October 2013.[11] In February 2014 Navalny and his brother were prosecuted on embezzlement charges, and Navalny was placed under house arrest and restricted from communicating with anyone but his family; he was sentenced in December 2014 with another suspended prison term of 3.5 years, and his brother received an actual 3.5-year prison sentence.[12]

Family[edit]

Navalny is married with Yulia Navalnaya and has two children.[13]

Early life and career[edit]

Navalny is of Russian and Ukrainian descent.[14] His father Anatoliy Navalny is from Zalissia, a village in Ivankiv Raion, Kiev Oblast, Ukraine. Navalny grew up in Obninsk about 100 km southwest of Moscow, but spent his childhood summers with his grandmother in Ukraine.[14][15]

Navalny graduated from the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia in 1998 with a law degree. He then studied securities and exchanges at the Finance University under the Government of the Russian Federation.[16][17]

In 2000, Navalny joined the Russian United Democratic Party Yabloko,[18] where he was a member of the Federal Political Council of the party. In 2002, he was elected to the regional council of the Moscow branch of Yabloko.[19]

Early activism[edit]

As acting Deputy Chief of the Moscow branch of Yabloko, Navalny stated that the party supported the nationalist 2006 Russian March but that Yabloko condemned "any ethnic or racial hatred and any xenophobia" and called on police to oppose "any Fascist, Nazi, xenophobic manifestations".[20] The march was widely opposed by the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights,[21] and the Russian Jewish community headed by rabbi Berel Lazar,[22] and participation from the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (the main organizer of the rally), the Eurasian Youth Union, the Communist Youth Vanguard, the National State Party of Russia, the National Patriotic Front "Memory", the "Truth" Community, the Russian National Union, the Russian Social Movement, and the "Russian Order" Movement.[23]

In December 2007, a meeting was held by the Bureau of the Yabloko party, on the issue of Navalny's exclusion from the party, with demands of "the immediate resignation of party chairman and all his deputies, and the re-election of at least 70% of the Bureau".[24] Navalny was consequently expelled from Yabloko "for causing political damage to the party; in particular, for nationalist activities".[25]

Navalny is a minor stockholder in several major Russian state-related corporations and some of his activities are aimed at making the financial properties of these companies transparent. This is required by law, but there are allegations that some of the top managers of these companies are involved in thefts and are obscuring transparency.[26] Other activities deal with wrongdoings by Russian police, such as Sergei Magnitsky's case, improper usage of state's budget funds, quality of state services and so on.

In October 2010, Navalny was the decisive winner of virtual "Mayor of Moscow elections" held in the Russian Internet by Kommersant and Gazeta.ru. He received about 30,000 votes, or 45%, with the closest rival being "Against all candidates" with some 9,000 votes (14%), followed by Boris Nemtsov with 8,000 votes (12%) out of a total of about 67,000 votes.[27]

In November 2010, Navalny published[28] confidential documents about Transneft's auditing. According to the Navalny's blog, about four billion dollars were stolen by Transneft's leaders during the construction of the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean oil pipeline.[29][30]

In December 2010, Navalny announced the launch of the RosPil project, which seeks to bring to light corrupt practices in the government procurement process.[31] The project takes advantage of existing procurement regulation that requires all government requests for tender to be posted online. Information about winning bids must be posted online as well.

In February 2011, in an interview with the radio station finam.fm, Navalny called the main Russian party, United Russia, a "party of crooks and thieves".[5] In May 2011, the Russian government began criminal investigation into Navalny, widely described in Western media as "revenge" and by Navalny himself as "a fabrication by the security services".[5][32][33] Meanwhile, "crooks and thieves" became a popular nickname for the party.[34]

In May 2011 Navalny launched the RosYama project, which allowed individuals to report potholes and track government responses to complaints.[35]

In August 2011 Navalny publicized papers related to a scandalous real estate deal[36] between Hungarian and Russian governments.[37][38] According to the papers, Hungary sold a former embassy building in Moscow for US$21 million to an offshore company of Viktor Vekselberg, who immediately resold it to the Russian government for $111 million. Irregularities in the paper trail implied a collusion. Three Hungarian officials responsible for the deal were detained in February 2011.[39] It is unclear whether any official investigation was conducted on the Russian side.

Involvement in 2011 Russian legislative election[edit]

Alexei Navalny at the courthouse, December 6, 2011

In December 2011, after parliamentary elections and accusations of electoral fraud,[40] some 6,000 gathered in Moscow to protest the fraud, and some 300 were arrested including Navalny. After a period of uncertainty, Navalny was produced at court and thereafter sentenced to the maximum 15 days "for defying a government official". Alexei Venediktov called the arrest "a political mistake: jailing Navalny transforms him from an online leader into an offline one".[41] Navalny was kept in the same prison as several other activists, including Ilya Yashin and Sergei Udaltsov, the unofficial leader of the Vanguard of Red Youth, a radical Russian communist youth group. Udaltsov has gone on hunger strike to protest against the conditions.[42]

Navalny was arrested on December 5, 2011, convicted and sentenced to 15 days in jail. Since his arrest, his blog has become available in English.[43] On December 7, President Dmitry Medvedev's official Twitter account retweeted a statement by United Russia member Konstantin Rykov which claimed that "a person who writes in their blog the words 'party of crooks and thieves' is a stupid, cocksucking sheep". This retweet was quickly deleted and described as a mistake by the Kremlin, but garnered wide attention in the Russian blogosphere.[44]

In a profile published the day after his release, the BBC described Navalny as "arguably the only major opposition figure to emerge in Russia in the past five years".[13]

Involvement in 2012 Russian presidential election[edit]

On his release on December 20, 2011, Navalny called on Russians to unite against Putin, who Navalny said would try to snatch victory in the March 4, 2012 presidential election.[45]

Navalny told reporters on his release that it would be senseless for him to run in the presidential elections because the Kremlin would not allow them to be fair. But he said that if free elections were held, he would "be ready" to run.[45] He then on December 24 helped lead a demonstration much larger than the post-election one (50,000 strong, in one Western-media account), telling to the "wildly cheering crowd", "I see enough people to take the Kremlin right now".[46]

Post-2012-election government battles[edit]

In March, after Putin was elected president, Navalny helped lead an anti-Putin rally in Moscow's Pushkin Square, attended by between 14,000 and 20,000 people. After the rally, Navalny was detained by authorities for several hours, then released.[47]

On 8 May, the day after Putin was inaugurated, Navalny and another opposition leader, Sergei Udaltsov, were arrested after an anti-Putin rally at Clean Ponds, and were each given 15-day jail sentences.[48] In response, Amnesty International designated the two men prisoners of conscience.[49] On June 11, 2012, Moscow prosecutors conducted a 12-hour search of Navalny's home, office and a search of the apartment of one of Navalny's relatives. The searches were done as part of a broader investigation into the clashes between opposition activists and riot police which happened on 6 May.[50] Soon afterwards, some of Navalny's personal emails were posted online by a pro-government blogger.[51]

In May 2012, Navalny accused Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov of corruption, stating that companies owned by Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov had transferred tens of millions of U.S. dollars to Shuvalov's company, allowing Shuvalov to share in the profit from Usmanov's purchase of the British steel company Corus.[52][53] Navalny posted scans of documents to his blog showing the money transfers.[53] Usmanov and Shuvalov stated the documents Navalny had posted were legitimate, but that the transaction had not represented a violation of Russian law. Shuvalov stated, "I unswervingly followed the rules and principles of conflict of interest. For a lawyer, this is sacred".[52]

On June 4, 2012, Navalny was ordered by Moscow's Lyublinsky District Court to pay 30,000 rubles ($900) as compensation for "moral harm" to United Russia State Duma Deputy Vladimir Svirid, after Svirid filed charges against Navalny for comments he made in an article written for Esquire magazine about the United Russia party: "In United Russia, there are people I come across that I generally like. But if you have joined United Russia, you are still a thief. And if you are not a thief, then you are a crook, because you use your name to cover the rest of the thieves and crooks." Svirid had originally sought one million rubles in the case.[54]

In July 2012, Navalny posted documents on his blog allegedly showing that Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of Russia and a Putin ally, owned an undeclared business in the Czech Republic. The posting was described by the Financial Times as Navalny's "answering shot" for having had his emails leaked during his arrest in the previous month.[51]

2012 embezzlement and fraud charges[edit]

On July 30, 2012, the Investigative Committee charged Navalny with embezzlement. The committee stated that he had conspired to steal timber from Kirovles, a state-owned company in Kirov Oblast in 2009, while acting as an adviser to Kirov's governor Nikita Belykh.[52][55] Investigators had closed a previous probe into the claims for lack of evidence.[56] Navalny was released on his own recognizance but instructed not to leave Moscow.[52]

Navalny described the charges as "weird" and unfounded.[56] He stated that authorities "are doing it to watch the reaction of the protest movement and of Western public opinion [...] So far they consider both of these things acceptable and so they are continuing along this line".[52] His supporters protested before the Investigative Committee offices.[55]

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted that "We should be concerned with attempts in Russia to silence fierce opposition activist Alexei Navalny".[55] The New York Times called it "the Kremlin's most direct measure to date against a leader of the protest movement that erupted here in December [2011]" and suggested that "the Kremlin's eagerness to limit Mr. Navalny's impact now outweighs the risk of a political backlash".[52] Al Jazeera described the charge as part of a broader trend of cracking down on dissent, connecting it to a recent bill in the Russian parliament to substantially increase fines on unauthorized protests and the trial of three members of the feminist punk-rock collective Pussy Riot.[56]

In late December 2012, Russia's federal Investigative Committee asserted that Allekt, an advertising company headed by Navalny, defrauded the Union of the Right Forces (SPS) political party in 2007 by taking 100 million rubles ($3.2 million) payment for advertising and failing to honor its contract. If charged and convicted, Navalny could be jailed for up to 10 years. "Nothing of the sort happened – he committed no robbery", Leonid Gozman, a former SPS official, was quoted as saying. Earlier in December, "the Investigative Committee charged [...] Navalny and his brother Oleg with embezzling 55 million rubles ($1.76 million) in 2008–2011 while working in a postal business". Navalny, who denied the allegations in the two previous cases, sought to laugh off news of the third inquiry with a tweet stating "Fiddlesticks [...]".[6]

Navalny, his wife Yulia, and Ilya Yashin, June 12, 2013

In April 2013, Loeb&Loeb LLP issued "An Analysis of the Russian Federation's prosecutions of Alexei Navalny", a paper detailing Investigative Committee accusations.[57] The paper concludes that "the Kremlin has reverted to misuse of the Russian legal system to harass, isolate and attempt to silence political opponents".

Conviction and release[edit]

People's gathering after the verdict to Navalny, July 18, 2013

The Kirovles trial commenced in the city of Kirov on April 17, 2013.[58] On July 18, 2013, Navalny was sentenced to five years in jail for embezzlement.[7] Navalny was found guilty in misappropriating about 16 million rubles[59] ($500,000) worth of lumber from a state-owned company.[60] The sentence read by the judge Sergey Blinov was textually the same as the request of the prosecutor, with the only exception that Navalny was given five years, and the prosecution requested six years.[61]

In the evening after the sentencing the Prosecutor's Office appealed the sentence in the part which prescribed Navalny and Ofitserov to be jailed, arguing that until the higher court affirmed the sentence, the sentence is not valid. Next morning, the appeal was granted. Navalny and Ofitserov were released on July 19, 2013 awaiting the hearings of the higher court.[62] The prosecutor's request decision was described "unprecedented" by experts.[63]

Probation[edit]

The prison sentence was suspended by a court in Kirov in October 16, 2013, still being a burden for his political future.[11]

October 2012 arrest[edit]

Following the alleged kidnapping and torture of opposition activist Leonid Razvozzhayev from Kiev, Ukraine, Navalny was arrested along with Sergei Udaltsov and Ilya Yashin while attempting to join a Moscow protest on Razvozzhayev's behalf on October 27, 2012. The three were charged with violating public order, for which they could be fined up to 30,000 rubles ($900) or given 50 hours of community service.[64]

Presidential candidacy[edit]

On April 4, 2013, Navalny announced his intention to run for the presidency.[65] Navalny described his presidential program as "not to lie and not to steal".[66]

According to polls conducted by the Levada Center, Navalny's recognition among the Russian population stood at 37% as of April 2013.[67] Out of those who were able to recognize Navalny, 14% would either "definitely" or "probably" support his presidential run.[68]

Moscow mayoral candidacy[edit]

In 2010, after the long-standing mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov's resignation, then-President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev appointed Sergey Sobyanin for a five-year term. After the protests sparked in December 2011, Medvedev responded to that by a series of measures supposed to make political power more dependent on voters and increase accessibility for parties and candidates to elections; in particular, he called for re-establishing elections of heads of federal subjects of Russia,[69] which took effect on June 1, 2012.[70] On February 14, 2013, Sobyanin declared the next elections would be held in 2015, and a snap election would be unwanted by Muscovites,[71] and on March 1, he proclaimed he wanted to run for a second term as a mayor of Moscow in 2015.[72]

Declaration of an upcoming election[edit]

On May 30, Sobyanin argued an elected major is an advantage for the city compared to an appointed one,[73] and on June 4, he announced he would meet the President Vladimir Putin and ask him for a snap election, mentioning the Muscovites would agree the governor elections should take place in the city of Moscow and the surrounding Moscow Oblast simultaneously.[74] On June 6, the request was granted,[75] and the next day, the Moscow City Duma appointed the election on September 8, the national voting day.[76]

Navalny in front of his electorate, agitating Muscovites to vote for him

On June 3, Navalny announced he would run for the post.[77] To become an official candidate, he would need either seventy thousand signatures of Muscovites or to be pegged for the office by a registered party, and then collect 110 signatures of municipal deputies from 110 different subdivisions (three quarters of Moscow's 146).[78] Navalny chose to be pegged by a party, RPR-PARNAS (which did peg him, but this move sharpened relations within the party; after one of its three co-chairmen and the original founder, Vladimir Ryzhkov, had left the party, he said this had been one of the signs the party was "being stolen from him"[79]). Among the six candidates who were officially registered as such, only two (Sobyanin and Communist Ivan Melnikov) were able to collect the required number of the signatures themselves, and the other four were given a number of signatures by the Council of Municipal Formations to overcome the requirement (Navalny accepted 49 signatures, and other candidates accepted 70, 70, and 82 ones).[80]

On July 17, Navalny was registered as one of the six candidates for the Moscow mayoral election.[81] However, on July 18, he was sentenced for a five-year prison term for the embezzlement and fraud charges that were declared in 2012. Several hours after his sentencing, he pulled out of the race and called for a boycott of the election.[82] However, later that day, the prosecution office requested the accused should be freed on bail and travel restrictions, since the verdict had not yet taken legal effect, saying they had previously followed the restrictions, Navalny was a mayoral candidate, and an imprisonment would thus not comply with his rule for equal access to the electorate.[83] On his return to Moscow after being freed pending an appeal, he vowed to stay in the race.[84] The Washington Post has speculated that his release was ordered by the Kremlin in order to make the election and Sobyanin appear more legitimate.[4]

Campaign[edit]

Ratings of Sobyanin and Navalny
among those who said they would vote,
according to Synovate Comcon polls
Time Sobyanin Navalny Ref
August 29–September 2 60,1 % 21,9 % [85]
August 22–28 63,9 % 19,8 % [86]
August 15–21 62,5 % 20,3 % [87]
August 8–14 63,5 % 19,9 % [88]
August 1–7 74,6 % 15,0 % [88]
July 25–31 76,2 % 16,7 % [89]
July 18–24 76,6 % 15,7 % [90]
July 11–16 76,2 % 14,4 % [91]
July 4–10 78,5 % 10,7 % [91]
June 27–July 3 77,9 % 10,8 % [91]

Navalny's campaign was based mainly on fundraising: out of 103.4 million rubles (approximately $3.09 million as of the election day[a]), the total size of his electoral fund, 97.3 million ($2.91 million) were transferred by individuals throughout Russia;[92] such a number is unprecedented in Russia.[93] It achieved a high profile through an unprecedentedly large campaign organization that involved around 20,000 volunteers who passed out leaflets and hung banners, as well as several campaign rallies a day around the city;[94] they were the main driving force for the campaign.[95] The New Yorker described the resulted campaign as "a miracle", along with Navalny's release on July 19, the fundraising campaign, and the personality of Navalny himself.[96] The campaign received very little television coverage and did not utilize billboards;[95] Navalny accused Sobyanin for the former, calling for a TV Tsentr debate (he stated the channel is subsidized by the city and criticized it for not holding debates;[97] in the end of the campaign, he called this and a number of other federal channels to give him some coverage, which was ignored by all of them[98]).

Thanks to Navalny's strong campaign (and Sobyanin's weak one[94]), his result grew over time, weakening Sobyanin's, and in the end of the campaign, he declared the runoff election (to be conducted in none of the candidates receives at least 50% of votes) was "a hair's breadth away".[99]

Election results[edit]

The largest sociological companies predicted (Levada Center was the only one not to have made any predictions; the data it had on August 28, however, falls in line with other companies') Sobyanin would win the election, scoring 58% to 64% of the vote; they expected Navalny to receive 15–20% of the vote, and the turnout was to be 45–52%.[100] The final results of the voting showed Navalny received 27.24% of the vote, more than candidates appointed by the parties that received second, third, fourth, and fifth highest results during the 2011 parliamentary elections, altogether. Navalny fared better in the center and southwest of Moscow, which have higher income and education levels.[4] However, Sobyanin received 51.37% of the vote, which meant he won the election. The turnout was 32.03%.[101] The companies explained the differences arose from the fact Sobyanin's electorate did not vote, feeling their candidate was guaranteed to win.[100] Navalny's campaign office's measures predicted Sobyanin would score 49–51%, and Navalny would get 24–26% of votes.[100]

Many experts claimed the election was fair, the number of irregularities was much lower than those of other elections held within the country, and the irregularities that did take place had little affect on the result.[102][103] However, according to Andrei Buzin, co-chairman of the GOLOS Association, State Departments of Social Security added people who did not originally wanted to vote to the list of those who would vote at home, with the number of such voters being 4.5% of those who voted, and added this did cause questions if Sobyanin would score 50% if this did not take place.[103] Dmitry Oreshkin, leader of the "People's election commission" project (who did a separate counting based on the data from election observers; their result for Sobyanin was 49.7%), said now that the runoff election was only 1.5% away, all details would be looked at very closely, and added it was impossible to prove "anything" juridically.[104]

Percentages of Muscovites who voted for Navalny during the election

At 00:30, September 9 (the election count night), Navalny published a post saying, "One thousand stations are equipped with ballot paper processing systems, the results for which we were promised to get at 20:30. [...] Since the close of the voting, it has been four hours. We still do not have the turnout data for all voting stations. We still do not have the data for the ballot paper processing systems. But just five days ago, it was set in stone 'preliminary voting results of the Moscow mayoral elections will be known on September 8, at 22:00, and the name of the new mayor of Moscow will be announced before the midnight'. What is going on, dear Sergey Semyonovich [Sobyanin] and Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin]? You cried the vote counting would be fair. Do not be afraid on the runoff election – it is not scary".[105] Later that day, Navalny publicly denounced the tally, saying, "We do not recognize the results. They are fake". Sobyanin's office rejected an offer of a vote recount.[106] On September 12, Navalny addressed the Moscow City Court to overturn the result of the poll;[107] the court rejected the assertion.[108] Navalny then challenged the decision in the Supreme Court of Russia, but the court recognized the result of the election to be legit.[109]

Yves Rocher case and home arrest[edit]

Since June 2012, Navalny had been a subject to travel restrictions because of the Kirovles trial, and since December 2012, he was a subject to another restriction, coming from the Yves Rocher trial. Unlike the former restriction, which allowed him to move across Moscow and the surrounding Moscow Oblast, the latter limited his movements to Moscow alone.[110] On January 10, 2014, however, he was found in Moscow Oblast, and the investigators announced the restrictions were broken.[111] Navalny declared he had been given the right to visit the territory of the Oblast some time after the December 2012 restriction was signed, and published a corresponding document.[112] His press secretary Anna Veduta declared, "the Investigating Committee is arranging propaganda soil to put Alexei under a home arrest".[112]

Case[edit]

In 2008, Oleg Navalny made an offer to Yves Rocher Vostok, the Eastern European subsidiary of Yves Rocher between 2008 and 2012, to accredit Glavpodpiska, which was created by Alexei Navalny, with delivering duties. On August 5, the parties signed a contract. To fulfill the obligations under the agreement, Glavpodpiska outsourced the task to sub-suppliers, AvtoSAGA and Multiprofile Processing Company (MPC). In November and December 2012, the Investigating Committee interrogated and questioned Yves Rocher Vostok. On December 10, Bruno Leproux, general director of Yves Rocher Vostok, filed to the Investigative Committee, asking to investigate if the Glavpodpiska subscription company had damaged Yves Rocher Vostok, and the Investigative Committee initiated a case.[113]

The prosecution claimed Glavpodpiska embezzled money by taking duties and then redistributing them to other companies for lesser amounts of money, and collecting the surplus: 26.7 million rubles ($540,000) from Yves Rocher Vostok, and 4.4 million rubles from the MPC. The funds were claimed to be subsequently legalized by transferring them on fictitious grounds from a fly-by-night company to Kobyakovskaya Fabrika Po Lozopleteniyu, a willow weaving company founded by Navalny and operated by his parents.[114][115][116] Navalnys denied the charges. The brothers' lawyers claimed, the investigators "added phrases like 'bearing criminal intentions' to a description of regular entrepreneurial activity". According to Oleg Navalny's lawyer, Glavpodpiska did not just collect money, it controlled provision of means of transport, execution of orders, collected and expedited production to the carriers, and was responsible before clients for terms and quality of executing orders.[113]

Yves Rocher denied that they had any losses, as did the rest of the witnesses, except the Multiprofile Processing Company CEO Sergei Shustov, who said he had learned about his losses from an investigator and believed him, without making audits. Both brothers and their lawyers claimed Alexei Navalny did not participate in the Gladpodpiska operations, and witnesses all claimed they had never encountered Alexei Navalny in person before the trial.[113]

Home arrest and limitations[edit]

Following the imputed violation of travel restrictions, Navalny was placed under house arrest and prohibited from communicating with anyone other than his family, lawyers, and investigators on February 28, 2014.[12][117] Navalny claimed the arrest was politically motivated, and he filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. On July 7, he declared the complaint had been accepted and given priority; the court compelled the Government of Russia to provide answers to a questionnaire.[118]

It was the time when Russia's political landscape changed dramatically: Following the Euromaidan demonstrations and civil unrest in Kiev, which resulted in establishment of a new pro-EU president and government, a countering wave of protests and civil unrest started in Southern and Eastern Ukraine, and in Crimea, a "volunteer force of self-defense of Crimea" announced a referendum, the question for which eventually was, whether Crimea should join the Russian Federation or not. (Later, Putin publicly declared the self-defense forces were composed of Russian military.) Following the referendum, Crimea de facto became a part of Russia. The sociological center marked the fact Putin's rating was skyrocketing: it was just 29% (among all respondents, including those who were unsure or would not vote) in January 2014, but rose to 49% in April 2014, a figure that would transform to 81% if those who were unsure or not willing to vote were excluded.[119] The same pollster showed Navalny's presidential ratings in March and April 2014 were 1% and "<1%".[119]

The home arrest, in particular, prohibited usage of Internet; however, new posts were released under his social media accounts after the arrest was announced. A March 5 post claimed the accounts were controlled by his Anti-Corruption Foundation teammates and his wife Yulia.[120] On March 13, his LiveJournal blog was blocked in Russia, because, according to the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), "functioning of the given web page breaks the regulation of the juridical decision of the bail hearing of a citizen, against who a criminal case has been initiated".[121] Navalny's associates started a new blog, navalny.com, and the LiveJournal blog was eventually abolished, with the last post published on July 9.

The home arrest was lightened a number of times: On August 21, Navalny was allowed to communicate with his co-defendants;[122] a journalist present in the courthouse at the moment confirmed Navalny was allowed to communicate with "anyone but the Yves Rocher case witnesses".[123] On October 10, his right of communication with press was confirmed by another court, and he was allowed to make comments on the case in media (Navalny's plea not to prolong the arrest was, however, rejected),[124] and on December 19, he was allowed to mail correspondence to authorities and international courts. Navalny again pleaded not to prolong the arrest, but the plea again was rejected.[125]

Conviction[edit]

On December 19, the judge announced the sentence would be read on January 15, 2015. Immediately, a Facebook group promoting a people's gathering on that day was founded. The service blocked it the next day following an order by Roskomnadzor; as of the moment of the blocking, the count of those who announced they would visit the gathering approached 12,000.[126] However, neither Facebook nor Twitter blocked any subsequent groups related to the event.[127] On December 29, 2014, it was announced that the sentence would be read on December 30.[128] Former vice-chairman of the Central Bank of Russia Sergey Aleksashenko suggested it was done because "the power was deliriously frightened of the possible January 15 event".[129] The number of those who claimed via Facebook they would visit the gathering as of the event exceeded 18,000.[130]

Alexei Navalny was given 3.5 years of suspended sentence, whereas Oleg Navalny was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and was arrested after the sentence was read;[131] both had to pay a fine of 500,000 rubles and a compensation to the Multiprofile Processing Company of over 4 million rubles.[132] In the evening, several thousands protesters gathered in the center of Moscow. Navalny broke his home arrest to attend the rally. He was immediately arrested by the police and brought back home.[133] On December 31, a court refused to arrest Navalny; it was announced home arrest could no longer be applied to him, since the sentence had already been read.[134] On January 5, Navalny declared he was the only Russian person to remain under a home arrest after a court's decision was announced, which would not comply with Russian Criminal Procedure Code, refused to comply with the arrest any longer, and cut off the tracking device on his leg.[135] He was further arrested for violating the home arrest on January 14; the police later delivered him to his home later that day.[136] On January 27, a court decided the home arrest lasting until February 15 was legit;[137] on February 17, it was officially declared the home arrest was over.[132]

Both brothers filed complaints to the European Court of Human Rights: Oleg's was communicated and given priority; Alexei's was reviewed in the context of the previous complaint related to this case, and the Government of Russia had been "invited to submit further observations".[138] The second instance within the country confirmed the verdict, only releasing Alexei from the responsibility to pay his fine. Both prosecutors and defendants were not satisfied with this decision.[132]

Participation in the pro-democracy coalition[edit]

On November 14, 2014, the two remaining RPR-PARNAS co-chairmen, Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Kasyanov, declared it was the right moment to create a wide coalition of political forces, who favor the "European choice"; Navalny's Progress Party was seen as one of the potential participants.[139] In late January and February, Navalny sought to conduct a march together with RPR-PARNAS in Moscow on March 1. The manifesto of the march demanded non-participation of Russia in the war in Donbass as well as social security during the upstarting decline in the Russian economy.[140] However, he was arrested as he was campaigning in Moscow Metro, and a court ordered Navalny should be arrested for 15 days, which included the time of the march.[141] However, on February 27, Nemtsov was shot dead. This eventually led to the plan change: the organizers demanded the march, which was planned to take place in the residential district of Maryino in the outskirts of the city, be replaced with a mourning march and take place in the very center, to which the city hall agreed,[142] although it was originally stated that would be impossible because that would break a law.[143]

On April 17, Navalny declared a wide discussion had taken place among Progress Party, RPR-PARNAS, and other closely aligned parties, which resulted in an agreement of formation of a new electoral alliance between the two leaders.[144] Soon thereafter, it was signed by four other parties and supported by Khodorkovsky's Open Russia foundation.[145] Electoral alliances are not present within the current law system of Russia, so it would be realized via means of a single party, RPR-PARNAS, which is not only eligible for participation in statewide elections, but is also currently not required to collect citizens' signatures for the right to participate in the State Duma elections scheduled for December 2016 thanks to the regional parliament mandate the party holds, previously taken by Nemtsov.[146]

However, disagreements led to the question of whether Andrei Nechaev's Civil Initiative party would participate in the coalition. Navalny and Kasyanov wanted all candidates from the parties of the coalition to be appointed by RPR-PARNAS, while Nechaev wanted to use the name of his party for a regional election in Kaluga Oblast; political expert Alexei Makarkin suggested Nechaev wanted to strengthen his position. Former State Duma deputy Gennady Gudkov, who participated in the negotiations, said that when the coalition was being formed, Navalny and Kasyanov agreed to continue negotiations in May and the next day, they declared what they wanted was the agreement and suggested opposition could divide into more and less radical parts.[147] Civil Initiative was not listed as an organizer of the pre-election primary elections held by the coalition; however, the party was supported by a number of opposition politicians, namely Gennady and Dmitry Gudkov and Ryzhkov.[148]

Party[edit]

After Navalny was expelled from Yabloko in 2007, he did not immediately choose to join another party.

On June 26, 2012, Volkov declared Navalny's comrades would establish a new political party based on e-democracy; Navalny declared he did not plan to participate in this project at the moment.[149] On July 31, they filed a document to register an organizing committee of the future party; the party was named "People's Alliance".[150] The party was declared to be centrist; one of then-current leaders of the party and Navalny's ally Vladimir Ashurkov explained this was intended to help the party get a large share of voters. However, at the moment, party did not have a comprehensive ideology. Navalny said the concept of political parties was "outdated", and added his participation would make maintaining the party more difficult. However, he "blessed" the party and discussed its maintenance with its leaders. They, in turn, stated they wanted to eventually see Navalny as a member of the party.[151] Another leader of the party Vladislav Naganov claimed Navalny's decision not to join the party was "the only correct [one]". The party planned to use the activity of its members in media and the Internet as a massive advantage. Ashurkov said he expected the party to get an official registration during spring 2013.[152]

On December 15, the party held its founding congress; Navalny expressed support to the party, saying, "People’s Alliance is my party", but again refused to join it, citing the criminal cases against him.[153] On April 10, 2013, the party filed documents for the official registration of the party.[154] Oleg Mitvol, the leader of the registered party named Alliance of Greens – The People's Party, appealed to a court in an attempt to block the registration of People's Allance, because the latter had, according to Mitvol, a name too similar to that of his party.[155] On April 30, the registration of the party was suspended.[156] After that, Mitvol withdrew his lawsuit.[154] From that moment, the party had three months to correct the violations proclaimed by the Ministry of Justice. The party held a second congress to comply with the requirements. However, on July 5, the party was declined registration; according to Izvestia, not all founders of the party were present during the congress, even though the papers were signed by their autographs.[157] Navalny reacted to that with a tweet saying, "[...] A salvo of all guns".[158] (On the same day, he also spoke his last words before the Kirovles trial.)

Russian nationalism[edit]

Alexei Navalny stated in 2011 that he considers himself a "nationalist democrat".[159] International media have often commented on his ambiguous but non-condemnatory stance toward ethnic Russian nationalism.[160][161] The BBC noted in a profile of Navalny that his endorsement of a political campaign called "Stop feeding the Caucasus" and his willingness to speak at ultra-nationalist events "have caused concern among liberals". He also has been a co-organizer of the "Russian March",[162] which Radio Free Europe describes as "a parade uniting Russian nationalist groups of all stripes",[163] and has appeared as a speaker alongside Russian nationalists.[164]

Navalny is agitating on behalf of aggressive anti-immigration policies.[165]

Navalny once compared dark-skinned Caucasus militants with cockroaches and made a video about it.[166] "Cockroaches can be killed with a slipper, but as for humans, I recommend a pistol."[167][168] Navalny's defenders suggested the comment was simply a joke. It has also been debated whether or not Navalny's ethnic nationalism is a populist strategy or arises from his real convictions.[169]

Early in 2012 Navalny stated on Ukrainian TV, "Russian foreign policy should be maximally directed at integration with Ukraine and Belarus… In fact, we are one nation. We should enhance integration."[170] During the same broadcast Navalny said that he did not intend "to prove that the Ukrainian nation does not exist. God willing, it does". He added, "No one wants to make an attempt to limit Ukraine's sovereignty".[170][171] In October 2014 Navalny stated "I do not see any kind of difference at all between Russians and Ukrainians", he admitted that his views might provoke "horrible indignation" in Ukraine.[172] He also said that Russian government should stop "sponsoring the war" in Donbass.[172] Navalny have strongly criticized Vladimir Putin's policies in Ukraine: "Putin likes to speak about the 'Russian world' but he is actually making it smaller. In Belarus, they sing anti-Putin songs at football stadiums; in Ukraine they simply hate us. In Ukraine now, there are no politicians who don’t have extreme anti-Russian positions. Being anti-Russian is the key to success now in Ukraine, and that is our fault".[173]

In March 2014, Navalny declared that he did not support Russia's annexation of Crimea. According to The Moscow Times, "Navalny suggested that Kiev should grant Crimea greater autonomy while remaining part of Ukraine, guarantee the right to speak Russian in Ukraine, keep Ukraine out of NATO, and let the Russian Black Sea fleet remain in the peninsula free of charge".[174] In October 2014 Navalny stated in an interview by Ekho Moskvy that he would not return Crimea to Ukraine if he were to become the president of Russia but that "a normal referendum" should be held in Crimea to decide what country the peninsula belongs to.[172]

Reception[edit]

Anti-corruption activities[edit]

Political activities[edit]

The reaction to Navalny's mayoral election result was mixed: Nezavisimaya Gazeta declared, "The voting campaign turned a blogger into a politician",[175] and following an October 2013 Levada Center poll that showed Navalny made it to the list of potential presidential candidates among Russians, receiving a rating of 5%, Konstantin Kalachev, the leader of the Political Expert Group, declared 5% was not the limit for Navalny, and unless something extraordinary happened, he could become "a pretender for a second place in the presidential race".[176] On the other hand, The Washington Post published a column that stated the election was fair so the Sobyanin could show a clean victory, demoralizing the opposition, which could otherwise run for street protests.[177] Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov stated on September 12, "His momentary result cannot testify his political equipment and does not speak of him as of a serious politician".[178] (When referring to Navalny, Putin never actually pronounced his name, referring to him as a "mister" or the like;[178] journalist Julia Ioffe took it for a sign of weakness before the opposition politician,[179] and Peskov later stated Putin never pronounced his name in order not to "give [Navalny] a part of his popularity".[180])

Criminal cases[edit]

Navalny's wife Yulia Navalnaya stated, "if someone hopes Alexei's investigations will cease, that is not the case [...] We will win".[181]

Navalny's arrest was criticized by a number of prominent Russians, including the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, who called it "proof that we do not have independent courts",[182] and former Finance Minister and close Putin ally Alexei Kudrin, who stated that it was "looking less like a punishment than an attempt to isolate him from social life and the electoral process".[181][183] It was also criticized by novelist Boris Akunin,[183] and jailed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who called it similar to the treatment of political opponents during the Soviet era.[181]

Other prominent Russians had different reactions: Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the nationalist LDPR, called the verdict "a direct warning to our 'fifth column'" and continued "This will be the fate of everyone who is connected with the West and works against Russia".[181] Duma Vice-Speaker Igor Lebedev stated that he did not understand the "fuss about an ordinary case". He added that "If you are guilty before the law, then whoever you were – a janitor, a homeless man or a president – you have to answer for your crimes in full accordance with the Criminal Code."[184]

A variety of countries and international organizations condemned the verdict. United States Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf stated that the U.S. was "very disappointed by the conviction and sentencing of opposition leader Aleksey Navalniy".[185] The U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, followed up by stating that the trial had "apparent political motivations".[181] A spokesperson for European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton said that the outcome of the trial "raises serious questions as to the state of the rule of law in Russia".[181][186]

The charges against Navalny and his brother are largely seen as a tactic by Putin to silence the opposition in Russia.[130] The spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stated the same day that the sentence was likely to be politically motivated.[133] Navalny made a statement, "The government is not just trying to jail its political opponents [...] this time, they are destroying and torturing the families of the people who oppose them".[12]

Awards and honors[edit]

Navalny was named "Person of the Year 2009" by Russian business newspaper Vedomosti.[187]

Navalny was a World Fellow at Yale University's World Fellows Program, aimed at "creating a global network of emerging leaders and to broaden international understanding" in 2010.[188]

In 2011, Foreign Policy magazine named Navalny to the FP Top 100 Global Thinkers, along with Daniel Domscheit-Berg and Sami Ben Gharbia of Tunisia, for "shaping the new world of government transparency".[189] FP picked him again in 2012.[190] He was listed by Time magazine in 2012 as one of the world's 100 most influential people, the only Russian on the list.[191] In 2013, Navalny came in at No. 48 among "world thinkers" in an online poll by the UK magazine Prospect.[192]

In 2015, Alexei and Oleg Navalny were chosen to receive the "Prize of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience 2015". According to the Platform's statement, "The Members of the Platform have voted this year for the Navalny brothers, in recognition of their personal courage, struggle and sacrifices for upholding fundamental democratic values and freedoms in the Russian Federation today. By the award of the Prize, the Platform wishes to express its respect and support to Mr Oleg Navalny whom the Platform considers a political prisoner and to Mr Alexei Navalny for his efforts to expose corruption, defend political pluralism and opposition to the mounting authoritarian regime in the Russian Federation".[193]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ According to the exchange rates[194] set by the Central Bank of Russia for September 8, 2013.

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