How Alexei Navalny and Putin of Russia unfold a new confrontation

In the photo of this handout, taken from a video released Wednesday, January 13, 2021, Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny has an Instagram account, and Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny has a gesture to record his address. doing. Alexei Navalny, top critic of Kremlin, said he would return to Russia over the weekend despite the latest motion of Russian prison services allegedly violating the terms of suspended sentence and custody observation.  (Navalny Instagram account via AP)

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny points out in a recorded message in an image taken from a video released on January 13, 2021. (The Associated Press)

Long-term conflict with the Kremlin Alexei Navalny Russia’s most famous opposition has launched a hunger strike, which has gone dark this week. Demand appropriate medical treatment And protest his treatment in prison.

Now his allies are openly expressing fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants his death again.

Navalny, 44, Barely survived the addiction Seven months ago, a military nerve agent attacked the Western government accusing Russian security agencies. After returning from Germany to Russia in January, he has been sentenced to two and a half years in a severe exile in eastern Moscow. Convalescent month From the trial of his addiction.

The Kremlin denied responsibility for Navalny’s addiction, but his case has already worsened in Moscow Tight relationship With the United States and the European Union of 27 countries. It also caused one of the widest and most sustained outbursts of domestic anger to date against Putin, who has been in power for over 20 years.

But analysts say despite the swell of this year’s street protests Demanding Navalny’s Freedom — There could be such a large-scale demonstration — neither the West nor his supporters at home actually have a great influence on Putin’s state institution.

Still, Navalny seems to have personally ridiculed Putin, emphasizing the issue of public corruption, the main source of dissatisfaction, and peeling Russian leaders in a way that most enemies couldn’t manage. is. Support for Navalny also utilizes youthful demographics that could herald the long-term interests of his political movement.

Here are some backgrounds about Navalny and where the latest conflicts may lead.

How serious is the danger to Navalny?

At all looks, it’s pretty. Proponents were surprised when he was sent to the largest security facility known as Pokrov IK-2, about 60 miles east of the infamous Moscow in harsh conditions.This week Instagram account He said he was denied access to painkillers and doctors to treat debilitating back and lower limb pain. He also talked about sleep deprivation due to guards shining light on his face every hour to make sure he wasn’t escaping on the surface.

On Wednesday, the account maintained in his name by an aide posted a handwritten letter from Navalny announcing the start of his hunger strike.series Twitter post On Thursday he said he had lost £ 18 even before the hunger strike began.

Russian democracy activist Vladimir Kara Murza speaks at an online panel hosted Wednesday Chicago Council on Global AffairsCited a “serious, dangerous and exacerbating” situation for Navalny. Bill Browder, an American-born British businessman who has defended the law on sanctions against Russia, likened Navalny’s case to a lawyer’s case. Sergei MagnitskyDied in a Russian prison in 2009. “Putin is trying to kill him in slow motion,” Brouder wrote on Twitter this week.

The Kremlin refused to comment on Navalny’s condition, and prison officials said his treatment was in accordance with the law.

How does Putin play this?

Analysts say Russian leaders take some political risk by allowing Navalny’s condition to worsen to the point where his life is at stake. “There is a risk that he will become a martyr and support his supporters,” said Elina Trager, a political scientist at RAND Corporation, if he died in custody.

Navalny said he “raised the ante” when launching the hunger strike. In anticipation of the dangers he faced while in custody, activists should not previously believe in the official claim that he committed suicide if something happened to him while he was imprisoned. Told to.

US and European governments Called repeatedly Regarding Navalny’s release, he cites his previous conviction of fraud and the parole breach currently imprisoned for political motivation. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron expressed new concerns about Navalny’s health and rights in a video call with Putin this week. However, the Kremlin’s reading on the phone said Putin responded with an “objective explanation” of Navalny’s situation, suggesting that he refused their appeal.

According to analysts, Putin is so skilled in using Navalny’s plight to portray himself as a diplomatic breakwater in the Russian affair, so western pressure can be counterproductive. State media routinely describes Navalny as a foreign agent and his supporters as Western deception. This is a message that is often transmitted to the Russian people.

From the outside, the official Russian media attack on Navalny can seem crude and formidable, especially when compared to the clever use of online outlets by imprisoned activists and his team.

Posts in his name frequently use sly humor and feature investigative journalist blockbusters such as this year’s Putin’s Palace video. It details the gorgeous Black Sea compounds allegedly paid by fellow presidents.

Former Russian agent Maria Butina, who became a cause celebrity at home when she served in prison time in the United States, what looked like a classic trolling by Kremlin on Thursday, pro-government channel RT Report on his case sent to Navalny’s penal colony by.

Navalny’s Twitter account described her as “miserable propaganda,” and Butina said, “I was screaming that this was the best and most comfortable prison.”

What’s next?

Navalny’s associates said they could revive the street protests that were canceled this year after authorities responded with the arrests of tens of thousands.To evaluate support, his team Online toolsThe goal is to reach 500,000 supporters who are willing to participate. By Thursday, about 370,000 people had registered.

However, research suggests that even many Russians who dislike Putin consider him a source of stability, suggesting that there is probably a numerical upper limit to such support. Polls on Navalny are “very complex,” said Kadri Rick, a senior policy fellow and Russian expert on the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“Some people support him, some are indifferent, and others believe he may be a Western agent,” she said.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities have various powerful means to put pressure not only on Navalny, but also on his peers and supporters.

While many members of Navalny’s team live in exile, the Putin administration has shown a willingness to use the familiar Soviet-era tactics of retaliation against their families. Ivan Zhdanov’s father, a board member of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, was detained over the weekend, Zhdanov said in a move aimed at him.

Moscow correspondent Vasiliy Kolotilov contributed to this report.

This story was originally Los Angeles Times..