Alexey Navalny faces a new bizarre charge by Moscow court. Fsb searched the house of the prominent Russian political opposition leader, who was already under house arrest, founding a strange piece of swag.
The charges moved to Nalvalny however, have already obtained an effect, given that his popularity has plummeted. Rather than go to prison, the former next mayor of Moscow is likely to be simply forgotten.
Navalny was home when the police knocked on his door. It was four in the morning, and he was already under house arrest for a charge of fraud allegedly committed along with his brother Oleg. Investigators were looking for documents to support the charge, but they ran into something else, a strange sketch.
It is a work of Sergey Sotov, a street artist based in Vladimir, a town 170 kilometers from Moscow, which exhibits his drawings hanging them around the city. The work, entitled “The bad man and the good man” was removed from the wooden fence where he was hanging a few days before. According to the Investigative Committee in Moscow, the drawing was stolen “causing serious damage to its author.” Strange to say, Sotov himself downplayed the disappearance in an interview, saying he had no intention “to waste time reporting the theft to the police.” The same interview, dubbed by pro-government TV NTV however, played differently, while another channel very active in the pro Kremlin propaganda, Life News, has reconstructed the events saying that a friend of Navalny, Georgy Alburov, stole the drawing and gave it to him as a birthday gift.
Almost a star for the Western media, Navalny is becoming a ghost in Russia. The Levada Center, the most reliable Russian polling institute, found that between October and April Russians that “have nothing to say” about Navalny raised from 8% to 12%, while those who “have nothing bad to say” fallen from 17% to 11%. In general, 39% of Russians stated they are indifferent towards him. It seems that the Kremlin’s campaign to put the former next mayor of Moscow in a corner is already producing its first effects.
Blogger, political opponent, anti-corruption activist, Navalny is primarily an anti-Kremlin man. His most prominent activity is aimed to unmasking the great corruption, the one connected with public investment and infrastructures. He and his team have been very busy during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. In a time when the Kremlin enjoys wide popular support, a large part of the Russians see those like Navalny as grumpy killjoy, or worse, as opportunists who are trying to make room in the power. It should not surprise such asymmetry in the popularity of Navalny abroad and at home, and it should not surprise the outcome of the polls, especially if linked to the Putin’s approval rates, that jumped in recent months from 62% to 83% .
The good and the bad Russian
The interest of the Russian judiciary to Navalny has recently increased. After a five-year sentence for embezzlement, suspended due to a pressing international press campaign, he was placed under house arrest on March 28, right when the popularity of Putin was skyrocketing after the annexation of the Crimea. Later came the new allegations of fraud and for the violation of house arrest (he continued to tweet despite the prohibition to use the internet). The net is closing even on his closest collaborators, Konstantin Jankauskas, Vladimir Ashurkov and Nikolai Lyaskin, accused of having misused funds of the mayoral elections of Moscow. Eventually came the new charges of theft of Sotov’s drawing.
In the end, Navalny is a small fish in the pond of political dissent to Putin. The results of the Levada Center also may not fully reflect the support of a part of the Russians, especially from young urban classes, to the opposition. The results of the municipal elections in Moscow gave him 27% of the vote against 18% of the polls, while the strong control of the media actually makes invisible dissent. On the other hand, the granitic consent to the Kremlin goes beyond the numbers and statistics.
The stolen drawing lists the characteristics of good and bad Russian. The first loves Motherland, family, decency, while the second uses the Internet and computers. God only knows why he was at home Navalny.
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