Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Power Vertical

Podcast: Navalny No Easy Target For Bastrykin

Anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny entering the Investigative Committee on July 31.
Anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny entering the Investigative Committee on July 31.
It's long been clear that Investigative Committee chief Aleksandr Bastrykin wants to play hardball with Russia's opposition.
And the announcement this week that anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny will be facing criminal charges that could land him in prison for a decade marked the biggest and most brazen escalation to date in his war on dissent.
But apparently, not all of the Russian elite shares Bastrykin's zeal for a crackdown.
Moreover, in Navalny, the Investigative Committee head has chosen a shrewd, savvy target who is capable of mobilizing public opinion and who has indicated he won't go down without a fight.
In this week's edition of the Power Vertical podcast, I spoke to my regular co-host Kirill Kobrin, managing editor of RFE/RL's Russian Service and veteran Kremlin-watcher Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University, about the looming struggle between Bastrykin and Navalny -- and what it portends. 
Also on the podcast, Kirill, Mark, and I discussed why the month of August is so prone to dramatic events in Russia.

Power Vertical Podcast: Navalny No Pushover For Bastrykin
Power Vertical Podcast: Navalny No Pushover For Bastrykini
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Tags: august,Aleksei Navalny,Power Vertical podcast,Aleksandr Bastrykin

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Comment Sorting
by: Mark from: Victoria
August 04, 2012 04:44
I hate to be a wet blanket, but it's just conceivable that Navalny actually broke the law, knowing full well what he was doing, and is a criminal. I realize the narrative that it is a brazen crackdown on dissent is much more exciting, how revolutionary, but they do have Navalny's emails, quite easily traceable to the account he admits is his own. The conversations do seem to suggest shady dealings, but that will be for a court to decide.

The sticking point will be, what standard of proof is acceptable to the west? Very likely nothing will satisfy westerners that their golden boy is a common thief, and it will therefore be necessary to brand all proof fabricated by the Kremlin. Because Navalny is such a triple threat, don't you know. If that happens, the big winner will be Navalny, who will realize - if indeed he does not know it already - that his western benefactors will make excuses for him even if he steals. I'm sure western criminals are jealous - few suggest that the evidence against them is fabricated by the government, because only the Russian government does that.

I notice Navalny is not doing much anti-corruption blogging these days, but is instead often defending himself and his alleged criminal behavior. I also notice that although his hamsters remain loyal, quite a few among his audience are starting to get a little skeptical. He probably would be wise not to call for any protest marches just now, because it would likely reveal he could not pull in better than half the crowd he used to.

Hence the west's restless search for a new opposition star, and its willingness to settle on anyone as the Next Big Thing.

by: Gennady from: Moscow
August 04, 2012 10:37
I hardly understand why this podcast has been recommended elsewhere. Any tale has its inherent dynamics. You're trying to spin Putin-Medvedev, Bastrykin-Navalny, St.Peter's daughter-mother "wax" relations. Absolutely not interesting at all ever. I am not their neighbor nor friend. Although somebody talks about "post-medieval", I would talk about "pre-medieval"; somebody will end up inside "the fortress", the "others" will be abondened outside. It is obvious and boring and trivial. Unfortunately, you are not a hooligan, sorry. Rent a flat in a khruscevka, your reports will be of pure gold.

by: La Russophobe from: USA
August 04, 2012 16:30
BRIAN: It is SO very tiresome listening to this drumbeat about how Putin faces hard targets in the opposition. Over and over and over and over and over again we have heard about what the opposition is going to do, and it has not been done. Give it up, for God's sake.

MARK: Isn't it even a LITTLE odd that every single person who steps forward to directly challenge Putin, from Starovoitova to Navalny, turns out to be a criminal and goes to prison, or dies? Isn't there ANY point at which even an ape like you will admit that this is simply neo-Soviet politics coming back front and center? Is there ANY figure in the opposition who you are willing to go on record now as stating that his/her arrest would be a clearly illegal, political act? If not, nobody in their right mind can take a single word you say seriously.
In Response

by: Mamuka
August 05, 2012 02:09
LaRusse, don't you agree that Putin 2012 is not the same as Putin 1998? What do you think will happen as he sees his power slip away? I think that the elites will start to become tired of him and maybe put forward alternatives.
In Response

by: La Russophobe from: USA
August 05, 2012 15:32
Do agree new Putin is different. Don't agree he is less powerful. Believe he is much, much more powerful, and a new Brezhnev. Believe he will hold power for whole life, do not see anyone on the horizon even vaguely capable of stopping him. Elites want what Politiburo wanted, could have deposed Brezhnev, didn't, won't depose Putin either. And if they did, something even worse will come until the people of Russia, not the elites, are calling the shots. But they won't, because they are cowards who do not really love the country. And why should they, when it brutalizes them so relentlessly.
In Response

by: Mark from: Victoria
August 05, 2012 20:35
Lev Ponomarev? Ksenya Sobchak? Ilya Yashin? Boris Nemtsov? Lyudmilla Alekseeva? Garry Kasparov? Yulia Latynina? Grigory Yavlinsky? Maria Gaidar? Sergei Udaltsov? Anastasia Udaltsova? Yevgenia Chirikova? Mikhail Prokhorov? Alexei Kudrin? Any of these ringing a bell? No?

All alive, I'm afraid; not murdered by Putin. All walking around free, not in jail, and nearly as mouthy as you. Plenty more like them, openly critical of Putin, identities and quotes available upon request, not dead and not in jail. The arrest and incarceration of any of them would be a political act if they were charged with something other than an illegal act, or if they were and it could not be proven. Navalny himself is very much alive, not in jail at the moment and running his mouth a mile a minute about what a heel Putin is. He is charged with an illegal act, and eventually there will be a hearing. If he is found guilty, which is by no means certain although there appears to be a good deal of evidence that could not have been fabricated, he will go to jail. Badda-bing, badda-boom, just the way it happens in Shining Cities On A Hill like the one you live in. You know - the one where over 2000 prisoners have been exonerated in the past 23 years, after serving prison time for crimes of which they were innocent. Some 873 of them supported by detailed evidence, although they served an average of 11 years apiece. Of those, over 100 of them death sentences. Since 1995, 13 major police scandals, in which officers were found to have planted guns or drugs on innocent people, resulting in their conviction.

Look in the mirror. Only a zealot or a nut would not have trouble meeting the eyes of the person there. Can you do it?

I'm not surprised.

by: Ben
August 05, 2012 16:25
Congratulation La Russophobe`s awakening! Russians know everything terrible about their authorities.They know nothing about themselves.Corruption is the ancient Russian feature,so the fight against corruption is the fight against the Russia itself.Even bolsheviks where silent about the Russian corruption.Let the opposition criticise! When it speaks abour the future it`s terrible!Have they ever hear about the British shadow government?

by: Mamuka
August 06, 2012 09:18
I dont see how being a new Brezhnev can be a good model for Putin! Russian power elites will back Putin as long as the money holds out. I think he will serve out his term and decide to "retire," only to be replaced by a new face. And it won't be from the liberal opposition.
In Response

by: Mark from: Victoria
August 07, 2012 02:03
If by "as long as the money holds out" you mean "as long as the economy remains healthy and growth remains positive", you're probably right. I should imagine that might hold true of any country. And when the opposition howls "Putin must go!!!", they're right, too. Around about the time his second term expires, if I'm any kind of psychic.

About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or