Opinion | Aleksei Navalny Is Russia’s True Chief

When Mr. Putin agreed to permit Mr. Navalny’s evacuation to Germany for therapy, he in all probability felt positive that the person wouldn’t come again. It was a good guess: Through the years of Mr. Putin’s energy, the extra individuals have had entry to cars, home equipment and shopper electronics, the extra they’ve consented to limitations on their freedom and political exercise. Mr. Putin in all probability felt positive that Mr. Navalny was just like the others — that between jail in Russia and a lifetime of consolation in Europe, he would select the latter. However Mr. Putin miscalculated.

Even earlier than finishing his therapy in Germany, Mr. Navalny said that he was going again to Russia; he even publicly introduced his flight quantity and departure time. As soon as arrived, he was duly arrested at passport management. There adopted an emergency listening to at an area police precinct home, a number of weeks in a Moscow jail after which sentencing to over two years in a penal colony. At each step, Mr. Navalny launched statements on social media by means of his legal professionals, his trademark humor and self-confidence seen all through.

Even when in jail his legs began to fail and he demanded to see his medical doctors, he made a joke about it: He mentioned that he had gotten used to his leg and didn’t wish to lose it. It was the habits of a courageous, proud, unbroken man standing as much as an inhumane system, whose weapons are jail and violence — an archetypical plot, acquainted to any nation that has skilled dictatorship. Although Mr. Navalny’s situation, at instances dire, appears to have stabilized, there might be no assurance of his security so long as he languishes in jail. The prospects for the opposition motion — not least after the actions of the Anti-Corruption Basis, Mr. Navalny’s political group, have been suspended on Monday — look bleak.

As for Mr. Putin, he has found the folly of refusing to face his opponent truthfully. The protests that swept throughout the nation on Wednesday — following main demonstrations in help of Mr. Navalny in January — attest to the power of Mr. Navalny’s enchantment and, extra vital maybe, to the depth of odd Russians’ dissatisfaction with their ruler. This was of his personal doing. By not recognizing Mr. Navalny’s proper to take part in politics, Mr. Putin introduced himself right into a confrontation with a pacesetter who’s his equal.

Now, after eliminating all his opponents, actual and imaginary, Mr. Putin finds himself alone. Just like the queen in a Russian fairy story, who day by day asks a magic mirror who’s the fairest of all of them, he desperately craves supremacy. However when he asks the mirror who Russia’s true chief is, it solutions: Aleksei Navalny.

Oleg Kashin (@KSHN) is a journalist and the creator of “Fardwor, Russia! A Fantastical Story of Life Underneath Putin.” This essay was translated by Carol Apollonio from the Russian.

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