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WSJ: The Example of Alexei Navalny’s Courage Vladimir Putin thinks he can kill opponents with impunity, and he knows he must to retain power.

  |   By Polling+ Staff

(Photo by Ian LANGSDON / AFP) (Photo by IAN LANGSDON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Example of Alexei Navalny’s Courage

Vladimir Putin thinks he can kill opponents with impunity, and he knows he must to retain power.

Alexei Navalny.  Word arrives that a leading Putin opponent is found dead in prison. Imagine that.  The WSJ writes:

“Alexei Navalny didn’t have to return to Russia in January 2021. That he did is a testament to his remarkable courage and also an explanation for why Vladimir Putin so feared Navalny, the opposition politician who died in a Siberian prison Friday at age 47. 

Vladimir Putin – WSJ Spotlight Coverage, Recent News

Vladimir Putin is the current president of Russia, holding the position since 2012 and previously serving the po…

Navalny first entered politics in the early 2000s, around the time Mr. Putin was starting his own long career as Russia’s leader. By the 2010s Navalny had focused his energies on combatting corruption and challenging Mr. Putin’s claim to power.

The risks of that political activism became more pronounced as Mr. Putin consolidated his grip. Navalny was arrested in 2011 following a parliamentary election the opposition said had been rigged and spent two weeks in jail. Navalny continued his work and over the course of the decade became Russia’s leading opposition politician. In August 2020, Navalny fell ill on a domestic flight. He already had been the victim of one chemical attack in 2017 and thoughts immediately turned to poison given the fate of so many of Mr. Putin’s opponents. Navalny was flown to Germany for medical care, where doctors determined he’d been dosed with a nerve agent of the sort Russian operatives used to try to murder another Putin critic in Salisbury, Britain, in 2018.

As Navalny’s health improved, he could have remained in relative safety in the West—as many dissidents under oppressive regimes choose to do, letting them continue their work though risking irrelevance. He chose instead to return to Russia, where he was arrested immediately upon landing. At the time of his death he was serving sentences totalling more than 30 years on various trumped-up charges.

He kept up his political activism from prison with the help of aides based outside Russia (several of his lawyers who remained in the country are in jail pending trial). This probably explains why the Kremlin moved him to a remote prison last year. The world is unlikely to know the true circumstances of his death any time soon, and it doesn’t matter whether he was murdered or succumbed to ill health as the Kremlin claims. If not for Mr. Putin’s political oppression, Navalny would have been safe and well at home and engaged in a normal legal or political career.

Navalny’s death may be a sign that Mr. Putin feels secure and therefore can risk provoking protests about Navalny’s fate. Mr. Putin has seen off a potentially serious rebellion by Yevgeny Prigozhin of the mercenary Wagner Group and faces no opponent of Navalny’s stature in “elections” due this year. A divided West at odds even over the territorial defense of European soil in Ukraine is unlikely to object too vigorously over the murky death of an internal foe. Navalny’s death wounds Russia’s opposition for the foreseeable future. 

Yet the paradox of dictatorship is that the autocrat who believes he can kill a domestic opponent with impunity also knows that he must to keep power. Navalny’s courage during his life reminds the world that many Russians still want something better for their country.”

A dictator is a dictator is a dictator. No matter the era, they all act in some version of the same way. They have the power – and if you oppose them you are not long for this world.