Critic of the Kremlin and slayer of corruption in Russia, opponent Alexeï Navalny was jailed until at least February 15, the day after his controversial arrest. Return on the course of an activist engaged in an unequal fight with the Russian power.
Considered by the NGO Amnesty International as a “prisoner of conscience” victim of a “relentless campaign” by the Russian authorities, the opponent Alexeï Navalny finds himself once again behind bars.
Anti-corruption activist, described by Western media as “enemy number 1” of the Kremlin, returned to Russia on Sunday, January 17, where he was arrested after five months of recovery in Germany following poisoning by an innervating agent of the Novichok type, according to his entourage and Western laboratories.
The news of the arrest of Alexey Navalny, who has established himself as one of the few opposition figures to directly challenge the Russian power embodied by Vladimir Putin, has provoked an international outcry and a concert of criticism against Moscow .
An anti-corruption activist from the web
The notoriety of this lawyer by training, married, father of two, and practicing Orthodox, has grown steadily in recent years, more in the West than in his own country, following his arrests and his imprisonments.
It all started with the launch, in 2007, of his anti-corruption crusade via the social network LiveJournal, then on his personal blog Rospil.info from 2009. Completely unknown in Russia, Alexeï Navalny then devoted his energy to denouncing the extent of the corruption that plagues the country and the Russian elites.
In 2010, he accuse Transneft, a Russian energy giant, for embezzling $ 4 billion (3.3 billion euros) during the construction of a gigantic pipeline connecting Siberia to the Pacific Ocean. His methods and revelations earned him the nickname by Western media of the “Russian Julian Assange”, in reference to the founder of WikiLeaks.
In 2011, he founded an organization, the Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), to track embezzlement in public companies and corruption in large Russian groups. The investigations of Alexeï Navalny and his teams, very documented, have millions of views on YouTube and disturb even beyond the political sphere.
The opponent attracts many enmities by not hesitating to attack the jewels of the Russian economy, whether it is the giant Gazprom, which has the monopoly of the exploitation of natural gas in Russia, but also Rosneft, the country’s main oil company, or even the VTP bank.
After being subjected to several administrative obstructions, targeted by an investigation for “money laundering” and having seen its frozen accounts, the FBK was classified, in October 2019, “foreign agent” by the Ministry of Justice.
Ineligible until 2028
At the same time, with the legitimacy drawn from his fight against corruption, Alexeï Navalny is increasingly involved in the political field, where the opposition is marginalized just as much as it is ignored by the media controlled by the authorities.
After the legislative elections of 2011, won by the party of Vladimir Poutine, United Russia, he engages in a new fight with what he calls the “party of thieves and crooks” by denouncing electoral fraud observed during the poll.
The charisma and the talents of orators of Alexey Navalny propel him to the rank of the leaders of the protest of the winter of 2011-2012, which sees the opposition mobilizing hundreds of thousands of demonstrators against the power.
His omnipresence on social networks and his activism give him increased visibility, but also cost him numerous court summons and smear campaigns, going so far as to accuse him of being a CIA agent.
In 2012, he was sentenced to fifteen days in prison after clashes with the police during a demonstration, before being under house arrest for almost a year, between February 2014 and February 2015, as part of a procedure. who also targets his brother, Oleg Navalny.
The two men are jointly accused of having embezzled 27 million rubles (394,000 euros) to the detriment of the French cosmetics manufacturer Yves Rocher. He will be sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
For his part, Alexeï Navalny, who vigorously disputes all accusations of embezzlement, multiplies the provocations by violating his house arrest, by going to a demonstration in December 2014 under the walls of the Kremlin, then cutting off his electronic bracelet in early January 2015.
The opponent does not dismantle and manages to present his candidacy for mayor of Moscow in 2013 and collects, officially, 27% of the votes. A result that he estimated to be much lower than his actual score, and which leads him to ask, in vain, for a recount of the votes.
Still, this is the last time that Alexeï Navalny is authorized to participate in a poll on Russian territory. His candidacy for the 2018 presidential election was rejected by the Central Election Commission, due to a suspended five-year prison sentence for embezzlement in a case dating back to 2009. The Commission even warned that the opponent could not stand in an election before 2028. Alexeï Navalny accuses the Kremlin of torpedoing his candidacy to stifle the opposition.
But even declared ineligible, the activist, a time close to ultra-nationalist circles, calls on the opposition to remain mobilized, multiplies the calls to demonstrate, and retains a power of nuisance.
In September 2019, when around sixty opposition candidates, some of whom are part of his allies, were excluded from the elections supposed to renew the Parliament of Moscow, Alexeï Navalny called on his supporters to vote useful. Precisely in favor of the candidate best placed against that of power. A profitable strategy which sees the United Russia party losing 19 of the 45 seats in the capital.
But while he was preparing an active campaign for the Russian legislative elections scheduled for September, August 20, 2020, Alexeï Navalny was placed in intensive care in serious condition in a Siberian hospital after a malaise aboard a plane. This is the beginning of the case of the alleged poisoning, ordered according to the opponent by Vladimir Putin.
A case that experienced yet another twist on Sunday with his arrest, motivated by the violation of judicial control measures while he was being treated … in Germany.