Navalny arrested: ‘Russians are ready for freedom’


Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who aims to unseat Vladimir Putin in presidential elections next year, was arrested ahead of a rally on Friday, raising the possibility of a month in jail, AFP reports:

In what is the latest attempt to thwart the 41-year-old Kremlin critic’s campaign, Navalny was held in his building’s entrance hall as he was leaving to get a train to Nizhny Novgorod, a provincial city. The rally had been due to start at 6 pm (1500 GMT) but Moscow police said Navalny was arrested “over multiple calls to participate in an unauthorised public event.”

The opposition leader said he had not received any explanation for why he had been held for several hours. “I am sitting in a reception room and looking at a portrait of Putin,” Navalny said on Twitter earlier.

“Russians are ready for freedom,” was the title of a talk at last week’s Oslo Freedom Forum in Manhattan by Vladimir Kara-Murza, deputy chairman of Open Russia, the country’s largest opposition group, Cathy Young writes for Newsday:

It was a statement likely to elicit a skeptical response, given Vladimir Putin’s 80-plus percent approval ratings and the paucity of protests. Nonetheless, Kara-Murza’s message is a compelling rejoinder to those who believe that Putin’s authoritarianism is Russia’s natural state…..Kara-Murza urged the West to “stop falling for the lie that Russian people are somehow uniquely unsuited and not ready for freedom.” He gave historical examples: Russians voted for pro-freedom parties after the 1917 revolution, before the Bolsheviks seized power by force of arms; they voted for the pro-democracy message of Boris Yeltsin in 1991, shortly before the coup; they stood up for freedom in August 1991.

Vladimir Putin did not like Boris Nemtsov (and the feeling was mutual), Kara-Murza writes for World Affairs:

Now, it seems the Kremlin is fighting the memory of the late opposition leader as hard as it fought him before he was murdered. Although the Moscow authorities grudgingly issue permits for the annual march of remembrance—when thousands of people walk the same route Nemtsov’s last march took down the Boulevard Ring, to protest Putin’s war on Ukraine—every effort to establish or construct an official commemoration has been turned down. Forget about a street—not even a plaque or a small sign is allowed. “There is no consensus,” the authorities say. They had no concerns naming Moscow streets after Hugo Chávez, the late Venezuelan dictator; or Akhmad Kadyrov (the current Kadyrov’s father) who once called on his followers to “kill as many Russians as possible.” No problem there. But the former deputy prime minister of Russia, governor, and four-term member of the Russian parliament is persona non-grata. RTWT

The sanctions law adopted by the US Congress in August gives “a fundamentally new character to US relations with Putin’s kleptocratic regime,” shaking it to its foundations and quite possibly leading to a serious deterioration in Russia’s relations with the West, says analyst Andrey Piontkovsky [a former Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group:

That measure, the Russian analyst writes in a commentary for Radio Liberty, requires that US government financial experts identify “all the shares belonging to the top of the Russian ruling class beginning with Vladimir Putin and then publishing data on them.” ….Moscow’s desire to use this wealth to gain geopolitical power and recognition as “ruler of half the world” has gone too far. (RTWT at Paul Goble’s Window on Eurasia).

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