Putin Opponent Navalny Arrested, Faces More Than 3 Years in Prison

The political activist's fraud conviction has been called a "politically motivated" Kremlin plot to keep him from running for office.


Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested Sunday in Moscow for violating probation for a 2014 fraud conviction. Why had he missed his meetings with probation officials? He was in Germany recovering from a Kremlin-linked nerve agent attack.

On Monday, a judge in the city of Khimki ordered Navalny detained for 30 days to await trial. Navalny, who was convicted of embezzling 16 million rubles' ($500,000) worth of lumber from a state firm, faces over three years in prison. The European Court of Human Rights has declared Navalny's original conviction to have been politically motivated, and his supporters say it was to prevent him from running for president against Vladimir Putin in 2018.

Navalny, who emerged on the Russian political scene over a decade ago as a financial analyst investigating state corruption, represents the only legitimate opposition to Putin's regime, says Chris Miller, director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Eurasia Program.

"In the Russian political system there is fake opposition," Miller tells Reason. "There are four parties in the Russian parliament. Three of them are ostensibly opposition but in reality, they are controlled, to varying degrees, by the Kremlin."

According to Miller, political outsiders like Navalny are barred from appearing on traditional media sources because they are controlled by the government. Nonetheless, Navalny has found success in reaching an audience. He made a surprisingly strong run for mayor of Moscow in 2013 and his YouTube videos denouncing Russia's widespread corruption have garnered millions of views.

In a video recorded from the police station where he was being tried, Navalny said that he had been denied a meeting with his attorney and called the proceedings "lawlessness of the highest order."

"Why is a hearing of the Khimki court being held at the police station?" Navalny asked. "Why was no one informed? Why was I not given a summons?"

The Russian government has been levying trumped-up charges against Navalny for years, according to Miller.

"In the past, many of them have been incoherent, many have bent the rules of what the Russian law actually allows," Miller says. "It's quite clear that the government, who otherwise has not shown great respect for the rule of law, is willing to do anything to keep him out of politics."

Leaders from around the world have denounced Navalny's arrest. The United States, United Kingdom, and European Union have demanded his immediate release, while Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have openly called for sanctions.  

On Tuesday, the Kremlin dismissed this international pressure. "It's a completely internal affair," said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Putin. "We have no intention of listening to these statements."

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  1. I’m so glad we don’t have to worry about this in America. Glad we don’t have a political party that gets elected and immediately starts saying they need to hunt down their political opponents, put them in a legal strangle hold, and enact re-education camps

    1. Give them time. Russia is still a backwards country and they have not mastered the art of totalitarianism. Only brutes go out and shoot people. Civilized totalitarians use the “private sector” to exclude undesirables and those pesky independents who question the agreed upon narrative.

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  2. On the bright side, Parler is apparently coming back up on Russian servers. Snowden, 8chan, Parler . . . all under Putin’s protection.

    Are all you progressive, cancel culture shitheads out there proud of yourselves for making Putin look like a champion of free speech?

    1. Hi Ken.

      Come to lecture us again about the morality of supporting a big lie psy op against your own population?

      1. “Your own population”

        Who is that exactly? Authoritarian assholes like you? Fuck you.

        1. Americans, Geiger. Americans.

          You know this whole subgroup identity thing you are trying to do is kinda completely incompatible with libertarianism, right?

          1. Yet you voted and were happy to see win the party that ran on a platform of division. Weird.

      2. Are you referring to 9/11 or the Hallsofcausts?

      3. You still believe Trump/Russia changed the election.

    2. And if you think Putin’s Russia supports Parler, 8chan, or Snowden for that matter because they are a champion of free speech, then I have a bridge to sell you.

      1. Enemy of my enemy champ. You’re just mad because Putin won’t cave to your whining.

        1. What is my whining, exactly, and what I am trying to get Putin to cave to? I have no expectations for Putin, other than to be a self serving psychopath.

          1. No bud, crying at me more won’t make Putin censor your enemies like you want.

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      2. Even the Imperial Japanese did something good by allowing the Shanghai Jewish settlement.

        Any port in a storm.

    3. You’re kidding, right? This is just more proof that Putin was pulling the strings of the insurrection all along!

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  5. This is a very brave man.

    1. Yep, really brave and possibly also really foolish, if he thought he will start some sort of mass uprising through protests. The Russians, in general, love their strongmen. They always have.

      1. I just wanted to thank you and the rest of your sock brigade for the opportunity to laugh at you, not only for insisting water was HO2 but for stealing Tulpa’s trick to cover up. So delicious.

    2. Alexey Navalny, the opposition leader whom the Russian secret police nearly killed with military-grade poison last year, is worried about Twitter’s decision to shut down Donald Trump’s account. Navalny is no Trump fan; he is far to the left of the outgoing U.S. president. The reason he is worried is that the way U.S. tech has ganged up on Trump and his most radical supporters can lead to his own deplatforming in Russia, where he has no access to state-controlled media and relies on mostly U.S.-based social networks — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter — to spread his message. That’s a valid concern.

      Smarter than you for sure.

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  6. I’m so glad my country is no longer controlled by Russians. Now that Biden is President, we finally have someone in charge who will confront Putin — with military force if necessary.


    1. We need to follow in FDR’s footsteps and put every suspected Russian agent in an internment camps until we can de-Trumpify our democracy!

      1. Just a reminder that, at the SCOTUS level, Korematsu still stands.

  7. Why would Putin do this so publicly?

    The reason Putin does things like assassinate people with plutonium is because he wants people to know it was him.

    That things like this are done openly is the point.

    This is also the way the Democratic party is operating right now. They’re making examples of people.

    Putin may actually gain a certain amount of support when he does things like this. That seems hard to understand from a distance, but then we all saw White Knight justify shooting an unarmed protester–because she was trespassing on public property.

    Progressives everywhere are cheering stuff like this on.

    It’s all more or less the same thing.

    1. I’m not sure that Joe Biden would risk the backlash of arresting Trump right now, but there are plenty of Democrats who would enthusiastically support Biden for doing so.

      For now, they just cheer on Twitter and other social media outlets deplatforming Trump to help silence him, cheer on publishers for refusing to work with Trump administration officials, etc.

      1. Yeah, people don’t like Trump and his goons. You like polls so much, go look up Trump’s average and outgoing approval ratings. The worst in history for the former, and the worst since Carter, I believe for the latter.

        Action have consequences, and you can’t force people to be your friend or do business with you.

        This is basic shit.

        1. I don’t have to like a guy or approve of the job he did to know that politically motivated prosecutions are *bad*.

          1. I never said anything about politically motivated prosecutions. I would agree they are bad, and have written quite a lot about disagreeing with Ken’s endorsement of those exact types of prosecutions in another thread today.

        2. Yes, you believe in mob collusion to harm people you don’t like. This includes unwarranted FBI investigations and other uses of government power.

          1. Jesse, you adding the word “mob” or “collusion” to the aggregate decisions of individuals doesn’t make you right. It makes you dishonest on top of being unprincipled.

            1. No. It makes you a fascist. You have no problem with collusion of politics to affect market forces. You literally are applauding fascism.

              You are just too ignorant of history to see it. Government using their influence to stymie the free market or speech is soft fascism. It is what happened in Germany under the early years of the SS.

              Again, you’re ignorant.

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  9. Soros network => trash.

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