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Navalny – a martyr? Experts classify death of Kremlin critic


Highlights: Navalny – a martyr? Experts classify death of Kremlin critic. Could there be protests in Russia after his death? “Putin is paranoid when it comes to criticism’, says political scientist Randall Stone. “The military will not have Putin’s back if there is a large protest movement,” says political expert Matthew Lenoe. ‘In the long term, Navalny will be remembered as a martyr. He will be an inspiration for opposition movements,’ Lenoe says.

As of: February 22, 2024, 5:13 a.m

By: Alexandra Heidsiek




Navalny was still a danger to Putin even in prison.

Could there be protests in Russia after his death?

Rochester – “Putin is paranoid when it comes to criticism”: This is how political scientist Randall Stone classifies the current situation.

The Russian president has lost support in the big cities and his regime is vulnerable.

The “color revolutions”, i.e. the political upheavals in many former Soviet states around Russia in the early 2000s, showed Vladimir Putin how quickly an autocrat could lose his throne.

Stone works at the American University of Rochester with a focus on Poland and Central Europe.

Political expert: “The military will not have Putin’s back”

In fact, the color revolutions brought about a short-term change of power.

However, sustainable democratic structures have emerged in very few countries.

In Ukraine, after electoral fraud was discovered in 2004, the defeated pro-Russian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych became president six years later - only to be chased into exile during the Maidan protests in 2014.

For many hopeful dissidents in post-Soviet countries, the failed coup attempt is a disillusionment.

Should there be larger protests in Russia - and that is also controversial - the demonstrators would have to get the military on their side.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Gerasimov are considered unpopular, a fact that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary force who was killed in a plane crash, took advantage of during his march on Moscow last summer.

Stone also thinks: “The military will not have Putin’s back if there is a large protest movement,” says a recent statement from Stone’s university.

Navalny was also a threat to the Kremlin in prison

For Putin, Alexei Navalny was always the gentle wind that shook the house of cards even from prison.

Last Friday he died under unclear circumstances in a prison camp north of the Arctic Circle.

Navalny's team had already called for protests for the upcoming election - which is an important propaganda stunt for the Kremlin ruler to prove his legitimacy to the world.

There is no doubt that the Russian security service will brutally suppress them.

But when war or economic crises erode the structure of a system, such repression can backfire, says Matthew Lenoe, a history professor at the University of Rochester.

Oil sales are currently bringing unprecedented amounts of money into Russia's coffers.

But the massive brain drain of highly qualified specialists could become a difficult problem to solve in the long term.

This “voting with your feet” also shows that large parts of the population – some statisticians put the number of emigrants at almost a million – are dissatisfied, be it because of economic development or because of the war in Ukraine.

Flowers for the late Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny (here is a photo from Stuttgart) © Christoph Schmidt/dpa

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“Navalny will be an inspiration for opposition movements in Russia”

This dissatisfaction could generate momentum, according to the researchers in Rochester.

Navalny himself once said of his potential assassination: “If they have decided to kill me, that means we are incredibly strong.”

Lenoe is also certain: “In the long term, Navalny will be remembered as a martyr.

He will be an inspiration for opposition movements.”

Navalny's death will bring together the forces critical of the Kremlin.

“Alexei’s wife, Julija Navalnaya, is already emerging as an important focal point for the opposition.”

The fact that Putin killed Navalny in a highly public manner at the Munich Security Conference and exactly one month before the presidential elections in Russia is probably a strategic calculation.

He shows that there is no mercy and no hope for change for dissidents in his empire.

Whoever opposes him will face persecution unto death.

Navalny is an obvious example of this.


Source: merkur

All news articles on 2024-02-22

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