Instagrammers Document Navalny Protests in Russia

Today, Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny (@navalny4) was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison. Navalny supporters took to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg to protest, claiming that the conviction was politically motivated. Dozens of protesters have been arrested.

To see more real-time photos and videos from the demonstrations, explore these hashtags and location pages:

Some critics of the online activism point out that offline effect of such action is insignificant. Indeed it is easy to be politically active online and never attend a single demonstration. It is easy to share and “like” some news on Facebook or retweet something. And it is incredibly difficult to actually get out of your comfort zone and go on a protest when you know that you may get arrested.
—  The offline effect of online activism in Russia: Blogger Navalny uses open access to information around the world to find illegal properties of Russian politicians. by Masha Egupova for Al Jazeera

Speaking truth to power
Facing prison, an opposition politician challenges Russians to stop tolerating lies
Dec 23rd 2014

ON THE day in 1974 when Soviet secret police arrested him for treason, Alexander Solzhenitsyn published an essay (via the underground samizdat press) entitled “Live Not by Lies”. It ended with a commandment in capital letters: “DON’T LIE! DON’T PARTICIPATE IN LIES, DON’T SUPPORT A LIE!” The lie, wrote the author of “The Gulag Archipelago”, had become “a mode of existence” in the USSR, “incorporated into the state system as the vital link holding everything together.” On December 19th, Alexei Navalny (pictured), a Russian anti-corruption blogger and opposition politician, recalled Mr Solzhenitsyn’s commandment in the “last word” he delivered at his Moscow trial. (The video can be viewed here.)

Mr Navalny has been under house arrest since February, and faces a possible 10-year prison term. The prosecutors allege that he and his brother Oleg defrauded the French cosmetics firm Yves Rocher. (Even the company’s employees say no crime took place.) Mr Navalny’s real offence, it is widely understood, is to challenge the rule of Vladimir Putin and to have exposed the staggering corruption permeating the Russian state and state-owned companies.

The “last word” has become one of the most popular genres of political speech in Russia in recent years. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil oligarch, pioneered the genre at the end of his trial in 2010 with an eloquent dissection of Russia’s political predicament. Jailed in 2003, Mr Khodorkovsky had become Russia’s most famous political prisoner by the time he was finally released last year. Now the honour of addressing the country from the defendant’s box has passed to Mr Navalny. His short speech to the court was powerful, although, as he pointed out, it was hardly the first time he has had a chance to deliver one.

How many times in his life can a person who has not done anything illegal give his last speech? In the last 18 months, this is my sixth or seventh…All of you—judges, prosecutors, plaintiffs—look down at the table when talking to me. You all say, ‘But Alexey Anatolievich, but surely you understand everything.’ I understand everything, but I don’t understand one thing—why are you all looking at the table?

Mr Navalny’s speech was addressed not so much to his supporters as to those in the Russian public who participate in the system’s mendacity. In attacking citizens’ willingness to embrace lies of convenience, thus perpetuating systematic violence, the speech recalled (consciously or not) such classic anti-totalitarian texts as Vaclav Havel’s essay “The Power of the Powerless”. “The more a person contributes to lying, the more lying he encounters,“ Mr Navalny said.

Lying has become the essence of the state…Why put up with this lying? Why look at the table? Life is too short to look at tables…We can only be proud of the moments when we can honestly look each other in the eyes, when we are doing something worthy…Life has no point if you put up with lying. We have allowed them to rob us and turn us into cattle. What have they paid us for this, what have they paid you, who are looking at the table, for this? Do you have schools? No. Do you have health care? No. Roads? No…You are being robbed every day. I can’t go on tolerating this. I will go on standing as long as is necessary, here, at the cage, or inside it.

Mr Navalny closed by simply citing Mr Solzhenitsyn’s title: "Even if it sounds naive and is often sneered at, 'Live not by the lie.’”

Judging by its over-reaction, the Kremlin appears to be just as worried about the impact of dissidents’ screeds as it was 40 years ago, when Solzhenitsyn published his essay. The function once served by samizdat is now played by social networks, in particular Facebook, which unlike its Russian imitators is not ultimately subject to the government. A Facebook page inviting citizens to join a pro-Navalny rally on January 15th, the day his verdict is scheduled to be issued, quickly gathered more than 12,000 acceptances. Russian prosecutors and the government internet watchdog demanded Facebook take the page down, and on December 20th it complied. “Facebook has no guts and no principles,” tweeted Pavel Durov, the founder of VKontakte, the Facebook imitator which is Russia’s largest social network. (Mr Durov himself was forced to sell his stake in Vkontakte in April, pushed out by figures closer to the Kremlin.) Michael McFaul, a former American ambassador to Moscow, tweeted that Facebook’s move was a “mistake” and a “horrible precedent”. Within hours, however, a new Facebook page advertising the rally had attracted almost double the number of acceptances.

It is easy to see why the government is worried. Mr Navalny was among the leaders of the mass demonstrations that rocked Moscow in December 2011. That wave of protest was placated by the patriotic fervour whipped up by the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine. But with the rouble losing almost half of its value over the past year, and the economy facing recession and inflation at the same time, that euphoria is quickly dissipating. The Kremlin will probably respond to economic problems with a renewed crackdown on the liberal intelligentsia; prosecutors have opened an investigation into the organisers of public readings in Moscow’s parks, accusing them of using the public money to sponsor Mr Navalny. Several well-known Russian poets, including Lev Rubinshtein and Dmitry Bykov, have been called as witnesses and refused to testify. As ever in Russia, words are deeds.

The Russian people ..lost one of the most ..eloquent defenders of their rights.

BARACK OBAMA on Putin’s critic Nemtsov, the critic of the Kremlin’s war who was gunned down.  

In 2009 Obama met Boris Nemtsov

The Unsurprising, Unjust Conviction of Russia’s Opposition Leader

Aleksei Navalny woke up this morning knowing that he’d be found guilty of the crime of embezzlement. What he wasn’t absolutely sure of, though probably heavily suspected, was that he’d be given a lengthy jail sentence – five years, as it turns out, which is just one fewer than the prosecutor had asked for, along with a $15,400 fine. In one the last email exchange I had with him, a little over a week ago, he’d written back: “Will it happen before the 18th?” in response to a note alerting him something forthcoming that I knew would be of interest to him. He was under no illusions as to how little time he had left.There are four other “charges” pending against the Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner, and possibly more to come. Navalny had said recently that he’d lost count of the number of indictments being handed down by Vladimir Putin’s legal Thermidor, which is overseen by the Investigative Committee’s Alexander Bastrykin. Bastrykin is man who once threatened to to behead a journalist in a forest; he ordered his investigators, who initially turned up nothing, to turn up something related to Navalny’s theft.

Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]

Jailed activist Navalny embodies a generation of rebellious Russians

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced to five years in jail for theft on Thursday, an unexpectedly tough punishment which supporters say proves that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a dictator ruling by repression. 

Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner, hugged his wife and his mother, shook his father’s hand and then passed them his watch before being led away in handcuffs.

“Shame! Disgrace!” protesters chanted outside the court. Some burst into tears.

Photo gallery.

The United States and European Union expressed concern over the conviction, saying it raised questions about the rule of law in Russia and Putin’s treatment of opponents. 

Russian shares fell on concerns the ruling could provoke social unrest.

In a last message from court, Navalny, 37, referred to Putin as a toad who abuses Russia’s vast oil revenues to stay in power and made clear he expected his supporters to press his campaign.
State prosecutors had asked the court to jail Navalny for six years on charges of organizing a scheme to steal at least 16 million roubles ($494,400) from a local timber firm when he was advising the Kirov region governor in 2009.

Photo: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

“Why should Putin just get to stomp around like a giant while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? I’m just as cute as Putin, right? I’m just as smart as Putin, people totally like me just as much as they like Putin! And when did it become okay for one person to be the boss of everybody? Because that’s not what Russia is about! We should totally just STAB PUTIN!”

Is Aleksei Navalny a Liberal or a Nationalist?

Aleksei Navalny has been called the best hope for liberalization in Russia. And he has been called the most dangerous man in the country.

Navalny has risen quickly to become the de facto head of Russia’s anti-Kremlin opposition – a rise based almost entirely on his relentless exposure of high-level hypocrisy and corruption and his consistent demand for fair elections.

While those positions are broadly endorsed by Russia’s liberals, some have voiced alarm about Navalny’s association with ethnic Russian nationalists and about some of his statements that they say are dangerously inflammatory.

Now that he is the leading opposition candidate in the September 8 mayoral election in Moscow, his past positions are coming under increased scrutiny – including by some who have coordinated the opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s rule for more than a decade.

Controversially, Navalny has participated in the annual Russian March, a parade uniting Russian nationalist groups of all stripes. He has also endorsed a nationalist-led campaign called Stop Feeding the Caucasus that has called for ending federal subsidies to the “corrupt” and “ineffective” governments of Chechnya and other North Caucasus republics.

Read more. [Image: Grigory Dukor/Reuters]

Russian politics.

I know that usually tumblr doesn’t bothered about Russian politics, but today my country become step closer to autocratic mode.
Navalny have been arrested in the court, he has no fault, just arrested because he is oppose to Putin.
Some people go to protest now, but I promise my Mum to not take part in this dangerous actions.
So I stayed home.
Feel guilty, because I imagine myself in front of my future children, explaining why I wasn’t on Manezhnaya that day.
I don’t want a revolution, but oh my God, I just want my country back to my hands.
And nothing else.
I want my country being my, being Eupopean, with normal laws, with no corruption.
I want my friend married her girlfriend, because they deserved it.
I don’t want to be afraid, that somebody accuse me for being bisexual.
I want a normal country.
I want my country back to my hands.
Nothing else.

Navalny promise me to bring my country to me.
Now he is in the jail.
He was the leader I can believe, he is the men I trust.
But what now?
I got no answer.

I will pray for the revolution today.

Absolutely ridic censorship

Alexei Navalny just tweeted this post. You’ve got Tina Kandelaki, journalist and media mini-mogul interviewed by tough as a nut Vladimir Posner. On the top is the unedited version that went out in eastern Russia. The second video is what Russians in the European part of Russia got to see. The differences are stark.

In the 2'37’’ clip - Posner asks Kandelaki who’s responsible for the bias in the media in favour of the current rulership. She thumbles around, refusing to name names and saying that we’re all part of the system and all to blame. Instead, she offers to air an interview with Navalny on her smaller channel. Posner says that’s not the same as coming on the main channels. Kandelaki continues to protect those that make these decisions and brings up the one radio station that is allowed to broadcast Navalny - Echo Moskva.

In the edited clip - all the stuff about where Navalny is and isn’t allowed to appear is cut, as is Posner trying to establish who Kandelaki thinks is to blame. Instead we just have her saying that we’re all responsible and that it’s not all that bad - we have Echo.

Helpfully Navalny posts a third interview - of how a state edit is performed on an American. In this case Posner goes after US Ambassador Michael McFaul on the issue of whether Navalny is America’s “golden boy”… intense stuff.

It’s great when Navalny and others involved in the opposition can come up with such concrete and indisputable examples of bias. Given the position of the…erm opposition…over the moat at the bottom of the hill with Putin in his tower - these arrows shot into the sky have the best chance of causing damage.

THIS WEEKEND - Opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks at a protest rally in Moscow, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. Thousands of protesters marched across downtown Moscow on Saturday in the first major rally in three months against President Vladimir Putin, while defying the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts to crackdown on opposition. Color balloons with the words Freedom to Pussy Riot refer to the three members of the punk band Pussy Riot sentenced for two years in prison for performing an anti-Putin song inside Moscow’s main cathedral. Source: AP Photo / Sergey Ponomarev
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soz for posting some political shit but it’s really important for me and my country. navalny is our hope, the dream leader of our country, the main activist of putin’s opposition. he’s smart and intelligent, he fights for democracy and human rights, he’s our inspiration and the reason why good and kind people haven’t left this country yet. we believe in him and in our future :)