Posts Tagged ‘Alexei Navalny’

Navalny faces 30 more years in prison

October 21, 2022

Alexei Navalny, the best-known of the critics of Vladimir Putin, is serving a nine-year-sentence on charges of fraud, contempt of court and parole violations.

Now he faces additional charges of terrorism, which, according to his lawyers, could add up to 30 more years to his prison sentence.  He remains defiant.

The Meduza news service reported that Navalny, who is currently serving a nine-year term at the Sixth maximum-security facility in the Vladimir region, says that the Investigative Committee has just opened yet another criminal case against him. He wrote on Twitter:

I’m a criminal mastermind.  Professor Moriarty is smoking jealously in the corner.  You thought I was isolated in prison, but it turns out that I’m actively committing crimes.  It’s a good thing that the Investigative Committee remains vigilant, and misses nothing.

Got an official notice that a new criminal case has been opened in my regard, connected to the fact that, while in prison, I: promoted terrorism and made public calls to extremism; financed extremist activities; rehabilitated Nazism.

The investigators are framing Navalny as a criminal leader responsible for promoting terrorism and extremism by running the Popular Politics YouTube channel.  That channel is, in fact, run by Navalny’s associates.

According to Meduza, the court in February, 2021, found Alexey Navalny guilty of defaming the World War II veteran Ignat Artyomenko, Meduza reported.  Navalny’s prior suspended sentence in the fabricated “Yves Rocher” case, in which he was accused from embezzling from his own organization, was replaced by a real prison term.  Combined with the defamation penalty, this resulted in a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

Following the defamation trial, Navalny was charged with contempt of court. Later, the prosecution merged the contempt case with a fraud case initiated in late 2020, Meduza reported. On March 22, 2022, Navalny was sentenced to nine years in a maximum-security penal colony.

He said his lawyers estimated he could now face a cumulative sentence of 30 years, Al Jazeera reported. There was no immediate official confirmation of the new case from Russia’s Investigative Committee.

Navalny, who rose to prominence during mass anti-Putin protests in 2011, built a huge social media operation exposing the corruption of government officials.  He used witty and slickly produced videos that drew huge audiences.

Two of the most noteworthy were two videos about a billion-dollar palace built for Vladimir Putin with public funds.

Navalny was subsequently poisoned on an airplane fight from Tomsk to Moscow in August, 2020.  He was rushed to Germany for treatment.  He and his supporters published a video pinning the blame for the poisoning in the Russian security services.

He then returned to Russia and was promptly arrested.  To me, that was an incredibly brave thing to do.

His supporters continue to produce videos documenting corruption and criticizing the Putin administration.  There is a YouTube site for the videos with English subtitles.  They’re well-done and worth a look.

Anybody who admires Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning for what they’ve suffered in order to tell the truth about high-level crimes has to admire Alexei Navalny.  And vice versa.

LINKS

Alexei Navalny YouTube playlist.

Alexei Navalny official biography and Wikipedia biography.

New criminal charges threaten Alexey Navalny with 30 years in prison by Meduza news service.

Alexey Navalny faces  ‘terrorism’ charges; 30 years jail by Al Jazeera

Navalny facing fresh charges and up to 30 years in prison by Deutsche Welle.

Graft, corruption and Vladimir Putin’s ex-wife

August 8, 2022

Alexei Navalny, the brave Russian truth-teller, is in prison, but the work of his Anti-Corruption Foundation goes on.  Its videos are great examples of investigative journalism, both in their detailed research and in their clear and interesting presentation.  

 Vladimir Putin and his inner circle are repeatedly exposed and mocked; I can understand why they hate the videos.  I especially enjoy presentations by Maria Pevchikh, with her sarcastic smile and the way she rolls her eyes when she brings out one more example of extreme corruption and hypocrisy. 

This latest video is about how Putin milked the Russian public sphere to provide millions of rubles in income for his ex-wife, Ludmilla, and her new husband—possibly out of affection, possibly to buy silence.  It’s a bit long, but you can get a lot out of it just by watching the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes.  It’s in Russian but with English subtitles.

Navalny left Russia for medical treatment after an attempt on his life, but voluntarily returned in order to show he was not intimidated.  He was promptly arrested and sentenced to nine years in prison for allegedly embezzling money from his own foundation, and may get an additional 15 years for alleged extremism.  Pevchikh and other members of his foundation are presumably operating from outside Russia.  

LINKS

Alexei Navalny’s YouTube videos.

Alexei Navalny Fast Facts by CNN.

Alexei Navalny Wikipedia page.

Anti-Corruption Foundation Wikipedia page.

Navalny in prison, but his work goes on

April 21, 2022

Alexei Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) team are among the best investigative reporters of our time.

They have documented the extreme corruption of Russian politicians and oligarchs, which goes beyond anything I would have imagined. The one on Vladimir Putin’s billion-dollar palace, financed through graft, is just one example.

It is no wonder that Putin fears Navalny, and has railroaded him into prison on trumped-up charges.  

Russians are among the poorest people in Europe, the Russian government is among the most corrupt, and the gap between rich and poor is one of the highest of any advanced nation.

There is nothing more potentially explosive that showing the struggling Russian common people the extreme wealth and luxury in which their rulers live.

Of course rankings change year-by-year, and Ukraine also has extremes of poverty, corruption and inequality.  The point is that such conditions may become intolerable when Russians are asked to make more sacrifices for the sake of winning a war of choice led by their government.

Navalny started the FBK in 2011.  In 2013, he was indicted and convicted of embezzlement from his own foundation and given a suspended sentence.  Most human rights organizations regard the changes as bogus.

In 2020, he was poisoned and received treatment in Germany.  The FBK produced a documentary showing the Russian government was behind the poisoning.  He returned to Russia in January, 2021, and was arrested for parole violation.  He was tried in March on additional charges of embezzlement and sentenced to nine years in prison.  He is appealing that sentence.

Meanwhile the FBK had been shut down and some of its workers arrested on charges of extremism.  But it is continuing to produce videos, most of them with English subtitles, evidently from outside Russia.  The independent Meduza news service has relocated to Latvia and The Moscow Times to the Netherlands.

I worked on newspapers for 24 years, and I especially enjoy FBK videos as great examples of investigative reporting—the ingenuity with which the investigators track down the facts, their professionalism in document the facts, and the clarity and wit with which they present the facts.

(more…)

The poisoning of Alexei Navalny

January 25, 2022

When Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned, I didn’t know what to think.  Not that I thought about it too deeply.

It seemed to me that if the Russian deep state had really wanted to kill him, they would have succeeded.  Also, I was hung up on the definition of “novichok.”  But most of all I didn’t pay attention because I was preoccupied with the lies of war hawks in the American deep state.

The video above shows detective work by Navalny, Maria Pevchikh and other Navalny supporters.  It proves that the Russian government was behind Navalny’s poisoning.  It is in Russian with English subtitles, and was released in June, 2021, but I only became aware of it a couple of days ago.  I’m posting it on my blog by I suspect most Americans aren’t aware of it either.

Navalny fell sick on an airplane flight from Tomsk to Moscow on August 20, 2020.  The plane was diverted to Omsk, where Navalny was rushed to a hospital for treatment.  After two days, he was transported to Berlin for medical treatment.

Hospital patients in Russia, as in most countries, have the right to see their medical records, but the Omsk hospital refused to release Navalny’s.  In November, two Navalny lawyers, Ivan Zhdanov and Vyacheslav Gimadi, bluffed their was into the Omsk records department and took unauthorized photographs of the records.

They indicated that a biochemical blood test showed that Navalny had a deficiency in cholinesterase, which is a neurotransmitter, and the presence of organophosphate agents, which are a cholinesterase inhibitor.  In other words, Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent.

A month later, the Omsk hospital released what they said were Navalny’s medical records.  All references to cholinesterase and organophosphates had been scrubbed.

Poisoning by nerve agent was confirmed by physicians in Germany and by a Russian physician.  The German officials said it was a new type of nerve agent, deadly but slow-acting.  Navalny would be dead if the pilot hadn’t diverted the plane and his supporters hadn’t got him moved to Germany.

Navalny’s clothes were confiscated by the Omsk hospital and never returned.  Navalny tricked an FSB agent, Konstanin Kodryavstev, into confirming that his underpants were poisoned.  Impersonating an FSB official, Navalny phoned Kodryavstev and debriefed him on how he obtained Navalny’s clothes from the local police, carefully cleansed the underpants of any chemical agent and returned them.

The poison probably was added to Navalny’s underwear in his hotel room in Tomsk.  The room is under video surveillance, but no video footage of the room has been released.  There’s more evidence in the video, but you get the idea.

After having proved his government. had tried to murder him, Navalny returned to Russia in August, 2021.  To me, that was an incredibly brave thing to do.  He was promptly arrested, and is in prison now.

(more…)

Vladimir Putin’s billion-dollar secret palace

January 24, 2022

Over the weekend I watched two astonishing videos produced by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s supporters.  Here is what I learned.

Vladimir Putin has a luxurious palace on the Black Sea on a 17,000-area tract of land, which allegedly cost $1.35 billion (in 2021 dollars) to build.

Construction was financed by money siphoned from Russian state-owned enterprises.  The land is owned by Russia’s Federal Security Service, but is leased to shell companies owned by Putin cronies.

The complex includes an amphitheater, , an underground hockey rink, an oyster farm, an arboretum that employs 40 gardeners, a Greek Orthodox Church that was dismantled and moved from Greece, two helipads

Inside the palace itself are in indoor swimming pool, a theater with a stage, backstage and dressing rooms, a hookah lounge, a casino, a slot machine room and what appears to be a pole-dancing stage.

The furniture comes from exclusive Italian manufacturers.  It includes a $19,700 chest of drawers, a $17,000 bed and $10,500 chairs—also $700 toilet brushes.

I hadn’t paid much attention to Alexei Navalny in the past, but now I see him as a hero, like Vaclav Havel or Julian Assange.  The top documentary was produced while he was in a hospital in Germany, recovering from a poisoning attempt.

He decided he would only release it after he returned to Russia, because it would be dishonorable to expose his reporting team to perils he himself did not share.  He did return.  He was promptly arrested and is still in prison.  That took a lot of guts.

Navalny, Maria Perchikh, Georgy Alburov and the other members of his team are not only brave dissidents.  They are outstanding investigative reporters.

They also have excellent presentation skills.  As a rule, long videos don’t hold my attention, but I couldn’t look away from the two I have embedded.

There had been reports and rumors about Putin’s palace going back to the early 2010s, but it took Navalny and his team to nail down the facts.

Their opportunity came in August, 2020, when the builders discovered that the whole structure was riddled with leaks and mold, and had to be completely remodeled.

Somebody sent Navalny architects’ drawings of the structure.  The drawings specified the furniture in each room.

Navalny’s team obtained catalogs from the furniture suppliers and manufacturers.  These enabled them to created computer-generated images of the various rooms.  This part starts at the 59-minute mark in the top video.

They could have got things completely wrong.  But workers sent pictures of the actual interiors and, according to Pevchikh and Alburov, they were surprisingly accurate.

Their update is in the second video.  Both videos are in Russian with English subtitles. The two reporters said that when they went wrong, it was in underestimating Putin’s lavishness and bad taste.

(more…)

Afterthoughts on Putin and Russia

January 15, 2022

The fundamental fallacy which is committed by almost everyone is this: “A and B hate each other, therefore one is good and the other is bad. [==Bertrand Russell, in 1956 letter]

Vladimir Putin

I oppose the war party in the United States, I don’t consider myself pro-Putin or pro-Russia.

Vladimir Putin is the authoritarian ruler of a corrupt oligarchy.  I never denied this.

I guess I am pro-Russia in that I sympathize with the long-suffering Russian people, but I’m not an admirer of their government.

Thomas Piketty, the French economist known for his studies of inequality, wrote that the degree of economic inequality in Russia is at least as great as it is in the USA.

He wrote that half of Russia’s financial assets are in tax havens abroad. The Pandora Papers revealed that a large chunk of those assets are held by a crony of Putin’s.

Alexei Navalny

A friend of mine with contacts in Russia told me of a businessman who has to make kickbacks to three entities—the tax collector, the FSB (Russian FBI) and local organized crime.

This friend also tells me that, except for Moscow and a few other big cities, Russia is a sea of misery and discontent.

Opponents of the regime have a way of dying mysteriously or being killed by unknown persons. I wrote five years ago that Putin is a killer, and I have no reason to take this back.  Admittedly, not all cases are clear-cut, but unmistakable victims include Anna Politovskaya, Alexander Litvenenko and Boris Nemtsov.

The big human rights issue currently in Russia is the poisoning and imprisonment of anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny.   He fell sick while on an airplane flight from Siberia to Moscow in 2020.  His supporters arranged for him to be flown to Germany, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma.  Medical authorities determined that he had been poisoned.  Later, Navalny said. he tricked Russian agents into admitting they placed toxins in his underpants.

Early in 2021 Navalny flew back to Russia, where he was imprisoned on charges of parole violations.  He had been convicted of embezzlement, which his supporters say is a bogus charge.

 But now the Russian authorities have reportedly labeled him a terrorist and “extremist,” and are  going after his supporters.  Evidently the Navalny movement has them worried..

(more…)