The Man Who Wants to Bring Putin Down

Introduction — Dec 31, 2014

Alexei-Navalny (left) and brother Oleg in court earlier this week. Click to enlarge

Alexei-Navalny (left) and brother Oleg in court earlier this week. Click to enlarge

Let me be clear from the outset, this isn’t to defend President Vladimir Putin. He is as much a puppet as any other leader on the world stage. But when Western media outlets start promoting an ‘opposition’ figure within a country that the West is at odds with there is reason to be suspicious.
Particularly when a relatively unknown figure, at least in the West, is suddenly touted as a moral champion against the West’s new adversary.
In this case Alexei Navalny may indeed be an authentic campaigner against corruption in Russia. However, that doesn’t mean that elements in the West won’t use him for their own ends.
Maybe without him even realising it, Russian public support for Navalny makes him all the more appealing to Western interest groups; as he can be exploited and promoted as a ready made rival to President Putin.
This could be done through covert funding for his campaign, for example. Or, as in the article below, providing him with free and favourable publicity in the West, the effects of which will inevitably filter back into Russia.
The end result being to undermine Putin’s support and although it might not bring about regime change in Moscow, it could certainly limit the Kremlin’s political options.
We’ve seen a spate of colour-coded movements in the past decade. Beyond the protests and rallies however, some like Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” served to expand Western influence. And while others, like Iran’s Green Revolution”, ultimately failed that doesn’t mean that various interest groups have dispensed with them entirely.
Another feature of the colour-coded revolutions is that beyond serving Western interests and being covertly supported by Western intelligence, they often start in the media. Now a vital component of Western foreign policy, the Western media has feted the protagonists in various colour revolutions, while it studiously ignored their powerful backers.
Supporters and opponents of Alexei Navalny clash in Moscow. Click to enlarge

Supporters and opponents of Alexei Navalny clash in Moscow. Click to enlarge

Alexei Navalny is a case in point.
To illustrate this I cite an article that appeared in London’s Telegraph by Michael Weiss of the Henry Jackson Society, in which he defended Navalny against allegations that he was an agent of the West. There may indeed be some substance to Weiss’s case and I won’t argue with that.
However, a closer look at the Henry Jackson Society itself tells another story. Although the Society is now cagey about publicising its sponsors, they have previously been reported to include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, IBM and General Dynamics.
Apart from reportedly being sponsored by weapons manufacturers, The Henry Jackson Society also has links with the intelligence community and one of the initial signatories on its statement of principles was Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6.
The names on its list of international patrons are even more revealing. They include prime advocate for the Iraq War Richard Perle, Michael Chertoff, William Kristol, Natan Sharansky and former CIA Director James Woolsey, another key backer for the Iraq War.
That’s quite a line up.
So while Alexei Navalny may be an authentic anti-corruption campaigner, he is being covertly backed by neocons, warmongers and weapons manufacturers. More significantly perhaps, none of this is mentioned or even alluded to in the following Independent article.
Instead the Independent feeds its readers the standard line about Alexei Navalty being an “anti-corruption campaigner” but that is only part of the story.
What the Independent omits to mention is that he may be being used by the very same forces that were behind the invasion of Iraq. Now however, they may be about to use Navalty as a Trojan Horse to undermine Putin’s power.
Disinformation is made up of a mix of hard verifiable facts — to convince the unwitting when they are verified — and carefully concealed lies and omissions, which the verifiable facts help disguise. This Independent article amounts to little more than disinformation.

The man who wants to bring Putin down: Who is Alexei Navalny and why is the Kremlin so scared of him?

James Rush — The Independent Dec 31, 2014

Police arresting Alexei Navalny on his way to the protest for breaking the terms of his house arrest. Click to enlarge

Police arresting Alexei Navalny on his way to the protest for breaking the terms of his house arrest. Click to enlarge

The conviction of Putin critic Alexei Navalny brought thousands of protesters on to the street in what has been described as one of Russia’s boldest anti-government demonstrations in years.

The anti-corruption campaigner and chief political foe of the Russian president was found guilty, along with his brother, in a fraud case which has been widely viewed as a political vendetta by the Kremlin.

But how did Navalny rise to such prominence and why would the Kremlin appear to be so scared of him?

Who is Alexei Navalny?

A lawyer, popular blogger and political activist, Alexei Navalny has developed a reputation as one of Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics.

The 38-year-old rose to prominence with his investigations of official corruption and played a leading role in the anti-Putin demonstrations attended by hundreds of thousands in Moscow in 2011 and 2012.

His rise in the country’s politics has been seen since he started to blog about alleged corruption at state-controlled corporations in 2008.

But this campaign against corporations saw Navalny turn his criticism also directly to the ruling political party, United Russia, according to the BBC.

What has he done to annoy Putin?

Now considered to be the leading opposition figure in Russia’s politics, Navalny has long-been vocal about what he describes as corruption within the country.

Part of his tactic was to become a small shareholder in major companies, including state-run energy businesses, and then use his position to raise questions about their finances.

His anti-corruption campaign has developed a strong platform from which he has launched his attack against Putin’s government.

Before the 2011 parliamentary election he dubbed United Russia as the “party of crooks and thieves”, before going on to become the unofficial leader of the protest movement both in that year and during the presidential vote the following year.

What has happened to Navalny since he rose to prominence?

Yesterday’s conviction for fraud is not the first time Navalny has been found guilty of charges brought against him.

In 2013 in a different criminal case, he was found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced to prison.

He was released the next day however after thousands protested in the streets of Moscow.

After being handed a suspended sentence following his release, Navalny went on to stand in Moscow’s mayoral election in September 2013, finishing a strong second.

His latest sentence comes after he and his brother Oleg were convicted of defrauding a French cosmetics company and each given a three-and-a-half year sentence. While Alexei Navalny’s sentence was suspended, his brother Oleg was sent to prison.

Navalny however, who has been under house arrest since February, broke its terms to attend a rally following his conviction, which saw him rounded up by police as he approached the site.

He later tweeted that police drove him home and blocked him from leaving his apartment.

Oleg Navalny, the father of two small children and a former executive of the state-owned postal service, has never played a role in the Russian opposition movement.

His imprisonment has been seen by some as echoing the Soviet-era practice of punishing the relatives of inconvenient people.

Why would Putin and the Kremlin appear to be so scared of him?

Vocal, resolute and with an apparently dedicated base of support among Russia’s middle classes, Navalny has been said to represent a threat in Putin’s eyes.

While the President’s support has this year said to have strengthened following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Navalny’s grassroots base of support has developed through his years of anti-corruption activism, according to Vox.

Now, with the drop in the value of the ruble, following falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Russia’s involvement with Ukraine, there could be some concern among rulers of the possibility protests.

The verdict in Navalny’s fraud trial was not due to come until next month, but the court session was abruptly moved up to the day before New Year’s Eve, in what has been seen as an attempt to head off protests.

While Russia’s main state-controlled TV stations all but avoided the story (just as the Independent avoids mentioning Navalny’s Western backers. Ed.), Navalny has rarely relied on such outlets in order to garner attention.

While protesters gathered on the Manezh Square outside the Kremlin chanting “We are the power!” and “Russia without Putin”, in Washington State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke also said the US government was troubled by the verdict, which “appears to be another example of the Russian government’s growing crackdown on independent voices.”

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