This is what courage looks like.

This opinion piece in the Washington Post was written by the imprisoned Alexei Navalny. He is the Russian opposition leader who after narrowly surviving a Putin poison job, returned to Russia to continue his protests. He is now in the Gulag.

He goes beyond arguing that Putin must be defeated in Ukraine. He takes as a given that “Ukraine must remain an independent democratic state capable of defending itself.”

He goes beyond regime change as a goal for the West. The removal of Putin is not enough. “No long-term goals can be achieved without a plan to ensure that the source of the problems stops creating them. Russia must cease to be an instigator of aggression and instability. That is possible, and that is what should be seen as a strategic victory in this war.”

His hope for a peaceful and prosperous Russia is its transformation from fascism to parliamentary democracy. The West he says should shape its policy and rhetoric to advance that goal.

He provides this background for the current war . . .

“First, jealousy of Ukraine and its possible successes is an innate feature of post-Soviet power in Russia; it was also characteristic of the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin. But since the beginning of Putin’s rule, and especially after the Orange Revolution that began in 2004, hatred of Ukraine’s European choice, and the desire to turn it into a failed state, have become a lasting obsession not only for Putin but also for all politicians of his generation.”

9 thoughts on “This is what courage looks like.

  1. It is a miracle Navalny is still alive.

    Even more so, the admirable but all too rare heroes in the struggles against obscene regimes.

    Mandela spent 27 years in prison before ascending to lead South Africa out of one of the most brutal regimes in history.

    Navalny is in similar straits, but maybe a torch for reform.

    Autocrats are careful, but as the abused wife might say, “he has to sleep sometime”.

    What is interesting is that the pretense of state security by Putin is based on NATO expansion. Yet, the expansion was caused by his saber rattling and slaughtering as evidenced by actions in Georgia, Moldova, Chechnya.

    I might add that when a dictator doesn’t kill an opposition leader, then that might mean the person is a strong enough symbol that strikes fear into the black hearts of despots. Oligarchs are flying out windows and down staircases because they stand for little and are toadies. But some, like Navalny, have power even from prison. And with Russia in turmoil over the conscription, killing Navalny might be very dangerous for even the likes of Putin.


    Liked by 3 people

  2. WAPO is behind a paywall for me.

    I don’t know much about Alexei Navalny. I take it he is a darling to Western neocons because of his anti-Putin, pro-Ukraine views. Reading through his biography on Wikipedia, it is unclear to me whether he is an heroic figure or just a loudmouth malcontent.

    I’m inclined to think that the presence of vocal political opposition in Russia is a sign that Soviet-era oppression is no longer the common practice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I’m inclined to think that the presence of vocal political opposition in Russia is a sign that Soviet-era oppression is no longer the common practice.”

      That is a cheerful thought, but the fact that Navalni was the target of a Putin hit and that upon his return home he was thrown in the Gulag on trumped up charges is hardly evidence in support of that idea. We manage to govern our country without murdering, torturing, and incarcerating “loudmouth malcontents” (nice Putin phrasing there). Apparently Putin’s regime cannot.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. “… presence of vocal political opposition in Russia is a sign that Soviet-era oppression is no longer the common practice.”

    Which is why Navalny wrote that opinion from a maximum security labor camp and delivered it through his lawyer.😇

    Or that he was poisoned outside of Russia.

    Nothing has changed in Russia other than the name of the leader. Journalists are killed or imprisoned, just like the good old days. Others are imprisoned for calling the war a war.

    Russian women are burying their sons, husbands and brothers coming home in body bags. That helped bring down the regime after the Afghan fiasco.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Russian women are burying their sons, husbands and brothers coming home in body bags.”

      Or running to Finland, Georgia and other countries NOT under the control of Putin or his lackey-puppets to avooid “reserve duty.”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. While it may seem noble to oppose Putin’s actions and desire his demise, apparently he enjoys wide support among Russians. Neither the US NATO or any other body can do much to have him deposed without the support of Russians through uprising. This guy may appear courageous to westerners but everyday Russians may view him otherwise including those in the now annexed Ukrainian regions.


    1. Your link was broken, so I googled and got this:

      In your link was this caveat. Hard to tell what is really going on among the citizens, but if just mentioning the word “war” in any media or other official outlets gets you 10 years in prison, then I would be suspect of polling from Russia

      “n March, Maxim Alyukov, a research fellow at King’s Russia Institute at King’s College London, wrote in analysis for openDemocracy that in “autocracies, citizens are often afraid of answering pollsters’ questions in general, let alone questions about politics.”

      “This generates a distortion known as social desirability bias—citizens lie about their real preferences, which inflates survey results,” Alyukov wrote.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Noted, as we really don’t know how the metrics were obtained, but any claims of mass disapproval would be equally suspect since the same people refused to answer either way according to your assertion.


        1. Could be. But if you live in a dictatorship, and government officials or companies working for the government comes by the house asking questions, you will be cautious. Nothing may happen, but your job, your freedom or your life are not protected by much in the way of legal rights. We complain about our government, but you won’t be shot for it.

          Liked by 1 person

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