Remarkable is revealed in the case of Navalny. While Western media stylized Navalny as the leader of Russia’s democratic opposition, the founder and longtime leader of the Russian Liberal Party, Yabloko Grigori Yavlinski, publicly distanced himself from Navalny’s populism as senseless, anti-democratic and national-Bolshevik. Sergei Ivanenko, former deputy of Yavlinsky, stressed the liberals ' maximum distance from the militant Navalny.
Yavlinsky’s criticism is remarkable because it is brought forward by a man who has been one of Vladimir Putin’s harshest critics since the days when he came to power. Even now, he stated unequivocally that the “poisoning attempt” on Navalny was a crime that had to be clarified before an international tribunal. He even goes a step further by declaring that the poisoning was not only a crime, “it could also be evidence of the existence of state-sanctioned death squads in Russia.” So Jawlinski is certainly not suspected of wanting to shield Putin from criticism – even if he does not personally declare him a murderer and thief like Alexei Navalny, but rather accuses him politically.
Senseless “Protest Activism”
With this in mind, Jawlinski’s criticism, even if he is no longer chairman of the party for reasons of age, receives its irrefutable weight. His criticism begins with an inventory of the protest culture in Russia. Apart from illusions, this protest culture has so far, despite all “protest activism” in the years since 2011 until today, achieved nothing, has not been able to provide a perspective for democratic construction, has instead left behind many political prisoners who nobody really cares about, who can create public pressure for their liberation.
The protests that Navalny has now initiated with his return are only a continuation of this senseless policy, which does not change the concrete conditions and also contains no targets. Apart from cries like “Freedom for Navalny”, the protests had no intention. Against this background, says Jawlinski, “another such cycle of street protests is a path to even greater disillusionment.”
Even Navalny’s campaign headquarters understood this, said Jawlinski, when she announced that she would not call people to the streets to have them beaten. However, with their current calls, they accept exactly this situation.
What is needed, however, is a long-term, fundamental movement to build real democratic structures that give the population real social alternatives. Navalny’s policy, however, does not aim at the same thing. Navalny had returned fully aware that he would be sent to prison without any other target than to call him “Liberated Navalny”. For Jawlinski it is clear that nothing can come of it more than an aimless incitement of the masses.
Criticism of corruption is not enough
Criticism of corruption alone, according to Jawlinski, is of no avail. The fact that corruption reigns in the country is nothing new for the people. It is important to show ways of getting out of the situation that has arisen as a result of criminal privatisations since the 1990s. Jawlinski in the text:
“Unfortunately, Navalny’s investigations had no practical results for society, nor could they have. All who have been exposed remain in their place and with their money. The problem is not so much the age-old tradition of power theft, but the fact that during the reforms of the 1990s, and especially the semi-criminal (and in some cases, such as mortgage auctions: really criminal) privatization, based on a fusion of property and power, a system was created that does not provide for an independent judiciary, independent media, a real parliament and fair elections. And without a categorical separation of property and economy from power, without separation of powers, the fight against corruption is impossible.
Therefore, the most important socially significant effect that Navalny’s films aim at is the incitement to primitive social strife. This is not new either. This is exactly what the authorities did when they snatched Khodorkovsky from Yukos in 2003. Fueling class populism in Russia and provoking clashes between rich and poor will do nothing. […] The people of Russia are becoming poor not only because of corruption. Our citizens lose incomparably more because of the war in Syria and Donbas, because of the arms race and the completely limitless, non-transparent and uncontrolled expenditure on the military-industrial complex, because of the international sanctions against which Russia constantly runs, but above all because of the inefficient, costly economy of state capitalism (when profits are private and losses are public). Corruption can only be truly defeated by changing the system. Therefore, I repeat, the real fight against corruption is not a drone strike on the estates of corrupt officials, but a political fight for a new Russian state, for a new constitution, for a constituent assembly.”
Navalny: already 2011 cross to all others
This is where Jawlinski comes in for his sharpest criticism. He recalls that Navalny was expelled from the liberal party in 2011 because of nationalist and even fascist activities. To confirm this, Jawlinski has a witness from this period speak, Valeria Novodworskaya, who already at that time had aptly characterized Navalny’s position and political style: Navalny could, she had written,
“become the future leader of a disturbed mob, with a Nazi bias. […] The fight against corruption can lead to what it has already led in Belarus. Lukashenko had seduced the people by talking about the fight against corruption from morning to night. And it was easy to buy gullible white Russians. And the unconscious intelligence supported him because she thought she could turn him as she wanted. So we see the Belarusian landscape today. […] Arrests are not political indulgences. The Bolsheviks were also imprisoned, and Dzerzhinsky was imprisoned for ten years. Hitler was also imprisoned. Too bad it wasn’t for fifteen years. Perhaps there would have been no Second World War […] If the masses go with Navalny, the country can expect fascism in the future. […] The wave that is now rising is not only against Putin. It stands up for the undemocratic future of Russia. It is an uprising for past communism or for future fascism. And Navalny is one of the potential leaders of this new doom.”
Since then, since 2011, according to Jawlinski, nothing has changed at all. There is nothing positive about Navalny’s claim, with the ideas and agenda he proposes to participate in Russian politics. In 2009, when the human rights activist Stanislaw Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova were murdered by neo-Nazis in central Moscow, Navalny organized the “Russian marches” calling for ethnic hatred and similar murders. He also “did not hide"his nationalist positions on the war with Georgia or when commenting on the war in Donbas.
Navalny, it may be added, has not distanced himself from his nationalist performances to this day. And to this day, the people he addresses are not left or right. On the contrary, the strategy of the “smart vote” developed by him calls on people, regardless of their political orientation, to choose the party that is able to deny the party of Power, as Putin’s political support, the most votes. In his wake, in elections as well as in the current protests, people are gathering across the political spectrum, which only the slogan “away with Putin” and the associated vague hope for various life benefits brings to its feet.
Whether one supports Navalny as a politician or not, so Jawlinski ultimately, remains up to everyone. But it is necessary to understand:
“Democratic Russia, respect for the individual, freedom, life without fear and without repression, are incompatible with Navalny’s policies. There are fundamentally different directions.”
Navalny’s “chief of staff” speaks
Yavlinski’s former deputy Sergei Ivanenko responded to criticism from his own ranks with an article in which even sharper words can be found. According to Ivanenko, Navalny knew that if he returned to Russia, he would go to prison. He had nevertheless decided to come and sit in. This was the tactic of his political game. The prison was used by Navalny to generate support and try to silence all critics.
As evidence, Ivanenko cites the statement given by Navalny’s” Chief of Staff " Leonid Volkov on the current strategy of Navalny’s task force:
“There was no pity for anything, in fact I took a huge moral burden on my heart. […] I gave an order to all of our headquarters staff, an order: Guys, you have to go into detention for a long time, because the organization of these rallies is inevitably associated with threats of detention for all of our coordinators. And so they were all taken as organizers and imprisoned …
But it was clear to me that in this situation we had to gain maximum public attention both in Russia and outside for Alexei Navalny, for this arrest and for this trial. We needed to focus attention as much as possible to get maximum support. That millions of people see what is happening and come to understand that they are liberating themselves from the clutches of putinism and propaganda. So we should have thrown everything into the fire back then.
Although it was a terrible decision to tell people: you will go with the cavalry against the tanks, you will write on all the channels of the headquarters that we will hold a rally tomorrow, knowing that the raiders will be after you and you will be arrested. But we had no other way out, we had to do this in order to achieve a great social consolidation on January 23 and 31 before the court decision, before the verdict.
And we have achieved it at a terribly high price: dozens of our employees have been arrested, hundreds of people have been arrested in Moscow, under terrible conditions in Sakharov, 12,000 people have been detained. No one would want to pay such a price. It is terrible that we have to pay for this. It is terrible that Putin has put the country in such a situation that it simply costs so much to bring peaceful people into the streets: hundreds of people who have been beaten, some indictments, all kinds of simply monstrous things. It is very painful and bad.
But it made sense, because we gathered public opinion in our favor on our side before the verdict was made. And we have millions of viewers and millions of people who are shocked by what they have seen. And they watched because we drew attention to it with our events. And now these millions of people who were disappointed by Putin are with us or will be with us, will be with us in the ‘Smart Vote’.”
That is, Ivanenko comments, they knew that this would happen.
“They warned their headquarters, but not other potential protesters, and threw everything into this' firestorm ' to gain attention for the trial of Navalny, to which he came on purpose. This is a monstrous, cannibalistic tactics. Why should we follow him?”
“Navalny, “Ivanenko explains elsewhere in his text to describe Navalny’s ‘style’: “is a Nitzschean, a nationalist, a interlocutor of militants (Girkin-Strelkov and Prilepin, see below * ). That’s enough to put us at maximum distance from Navalny, no matter how many millions of followers he has.”
It would be good if these voices, which are no less critical of Putin than those of Navalny, but at the same time also make Navalny’s activities transparent, were also heard in the West, instead of Navalny being inflated to the “leader of the opposition”. However, it is obvious that this is not what is wanted in the East-West confrontation, which is currently being ramped up in the wake of the change of president in the United States. The reality is that instead, a cloud is being drawn into the EU’s deliberations, which Navalny’s work is taking as an occasion for new sanctions against Russia.
PS: On February 24, 2021, Amnesty International removed Navalny from the list of “nonviolent political prisoners” in light of his past. Which shows nicely what AI is for an instrument. Navalny is a criminal like others, an errand boy of Western interests who has less attention in Mother Russia than a cockroach.