Ahead of his trial for defaming a war veteran, Alexei Navalny quoted from the bible and confessed that he has become religious, pitting two ideological pillars of the Russian regime against each other: wartime victory and Christianity.
When the government shows that it’s prepared to use violence against peaceful protesters and to lock them up for extended periods, it plays on a preexisting mindset that perhaps protesting won't lead to any actual changes in society.
The authorities and their tactics—from hoarding taxpayers’ money to the blatant use of excessive force against peaceful protesters—are becoming visible and transparent.
Saturday’s protests were undeniably anti-regime, anti-elite, and anti-corruption, but not necessarily liberal, pro-Western, and pro-democracy. It’s not surprising that such protests frighten not only the authorities, but also successful members of society: even those who don’t consider themselves supporters of the regime.
The Kremlin’s approach to Navalny is a natural by-product of a political regime in which the initiative and locus of most decisionmaking concerning the real opposition or any criticism has shifted to the FSB.
Instead of blackballing Navalny, the Kremlin has turned him into the world’s most famous political prisoner.
Putin’s spokesman’s vitriolic attack on opposition politician Alexei Navalny—calling him a CIA puppet and accusing him of insulting the president—is a continuation of attempts to marginalize Navalny amid his post-poisoning prominence.
A new cold war is being waged without rules and without any kind of visible desire from the Russian side to initiate a new “détente,” or at least a “reset”.
The formation of a “protection services” market is a dangerous trend for the Russian power system. Navalny may have been poisoned by people who believe that the regime is no longer capable of dealing with threats itself.
The Serebrennikov case reveals a split within the Russian elite, and Putin’s refusal to back one side or the other. One part of it wants to re-Sovietize culture and punish artists who do not fit with their conservative agenda, while others continue to value artistic freedom.