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World Kremlin Misread Navalny’s Resolve to Fight, Even from Prison

07:15  22 january  2021
07:15  22 january  2021 Source:   bloomberg.com

Biden national security advisor calls for Russia to immediately release detained Putin critic

  Biden national security advisor calls for Russia to immediately release detained Putin critic In the wake of Navalny's poisoning last year, Biden vowed "to work with our allies and partners to hold the Putin regime accountable for its crimes."Earlier on Sunday, Navalny flew to Russia from Berlin, Germany where he had spent nearly half a year recovering since he was poisoned last summer. He was arrested at passport control.

The Kremlin is now resolved to keep Navalny in prison for several years or more, breaking with its past practice of giving him jail sentences of not more than a few “In Russia now it’ s more effective to fight the regime from prison than from exile,” said Khodorkovsky, who was forced to leave Russia in

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov wished Navalny a speedy recovery, saying any poisoning should be confirmed by laboratory tests. Last year, Navalny was rushed to a hospital from prison where he was serving a sentence following an administrative arrest, with what his team said was suspected

(Bloomberg) -- Russian officials were convinced opposition leader Alexey Navalny wouldn’t come back.

They’d warned he’d be jailed on arrival and steadily ratcheted up threats of new probes, amid allegations ranging from stealing supporters’ donations to working for U.S. intelligence. Even fellow Kremlin critics told the 44-year-old activist it was too dangerous to return from Berlin, where he’d been recovering from a nerve-agent attack he and Western capitals blamed on President Vladimir Putin.

But Navalny, convinced he could only remain a political force from inside the country, ignored their advice.

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  Russia's Navalny decries Putin's No. 1 foe, detained in Moscow after poisoning, says he's "seen a lot of mockery of justice," but his sudden appearance before a judge, "is the highest degree of lawlessness."Navalny's lawyers were not allowed to see the politician before the hearing on Monday, which they learned about just minutes before it started at a police station in the outskirts of Moscow. The judge gave Navalny's defense team 30 minutes to familiarize themselves with the case materials and said they could then have another 20 minutes to communicate with their client, before ordering a recess of 50 minutes.

Joining Team Navalny is asking for trouble. Like the opposition politician himself, activists linked to Alexei Navalny have been jailed, handed crippling fines, attacked and sent death threats. So as the Kremlin ' s biggest critic lies in an induced coma in Berlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Kremlin foe Alexei Navalny , detained on Sunday after flying back to Russia for the first time after being poisoned with a nerve agent, is spending his days under strict control in a VIP cell inside one of Moscow' s most infamous jails. The prison , called Matrosskaya Tishina or Sailor' s

His dramatic return has thrown the Kremlin on the defensive. The tension is unwelcome in a year that was supposed to be about sealing control in elections this fall as Russia recovered from the pandemic after Putin laid the groundwork to extend his rule as far as 2036.

“Navalny’s plan is very simple -- to become Putin’s No. 1 headache and with his courage inspire political activism,” said Fyodor Krasheninnikov, a political consultant close to the Kremlin critic. “If he had decided not to come back, it would have been a victory for Putin.”

Backers say that strategy can work even if Navalny is jailed for years, which they expect. The Russian leader’s main opponent is betting that he can bring enough supporters into the streets this year to show they won’t be intimidated. At the same time, he’s counting on a West newly energized by the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden to raise the pressure on the Kremlin from outside.

Alexey Navalny to be held in custody for a month following his return to Russia

  Alexey Navalny to be held in custody for a month following his return to Russia Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny was ordered to remain in custody for 30 days during an unexpected hearing in Russia on Monday, less than 24 hours after he returned to the country and five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. © Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny walks to take his seat in a Pobeda airlines plane heading to Moscow before take-off from Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) in Schoenefeld, southeast of Berlin, on January 17, 2021.

A Russian agent sent to tail Alexey Navalny has revealed how a lethal toxin was secreted in the underpants of the opposition leader. He thought it was an official debriefing, but he was talking to Navalny himself.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the accusations against the government “absolutely cannot be true and are rather an empty noise.” A stretcher is taken from special aircraft with the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on board at Tegel Airport in Berlin. - Copyright Michael Kappeler/dpa via AP.

It’s a risky gamble.

Long Sentence

The Kremlin is now resolved to keep Navalny in prison for several years or more, breaking with its past practice of giving him jail sentences of not more than a few weeks at a time, according to two people close to the leadership, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that aren’t public. He could get as much as 3.5 years at a hearing scheduled for Feb. 2, with another case in the works that could add 10 more.

These people said the harder line comes from the Kremlin’s view that Navalny is working on behalf of Western governments -- a charge he denies. At the same time, the continuing protests in Belarus despite Russian-backed strongman Alexander Lukashenko’s brutal efforts to suppress them have raised fears about public protests, they said. Authorities hope that Navalny’s highly personalized movement will lose direction once he’s in prison.

Russia extends Navalny's detention as outcry over his arrest grows

  Russia extends Navalny's detention as outcry over his arrest grows Russian authorities extend Navalny's detention, as outcry grows over opposition leaders arrest after he returned to Russia following poisoning Navalny was detained by police at passport control at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport as he landed in the country for the first time since his poisoning with a nerve agent last summer.

Navalny , 44, was detained Sunday evening at passport control at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after arriving from Berlin, where he was treated following the poisoning in August. Also on Tuesday, Navalny ' s Foundation for Fighting Corruption released a two-hour video investigation of what they

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny ' s team has released a report about a sprawling, opulent Black Sea palace allegedly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The video was posted less than two days after Navalny ' s arrest. Alexei Navalny ' s team on Tuesday released a two-hour video featuring details

Read More: Putin, Poison and the Importance of Alexey Navalny: QuickTake

So far, that hasn’t happened. A new video he and his team released on YouTube Tuesday, exposing a grandiose Black Sea palace they alleged belongs to Putin, had over 40 million views in the first two days, a record for his group. The Kremlin calls the film’s claims untrue.

“They provoked a completely unnecessary crisis with serious domestic and international consequences,” said Gleb Pavlovsky, a political consultant who worked for the presidential administration in the early 2000s. “The Kremlin is now playing on Navalny’s turf.”

The activist and his allies hope that his case will catalyze the public discontent that’s been simmering amid a 4% decline in real incomes and coronavirus lockdowns, driving Putin’s ratings to record lows at one point last year. They’re targeting parliamentary elections in September as a chance to send a signal of the breadth of popular unhappiness.

A Levada Center poll last fall found 20% of Russians said they approved of Navalny’s work, despite uniformly negative coverage of him in state media. Half said they disapproved.

Biden administration calls on Russia to free jailed opposition leader Navalny as well as pro-democracy protesters

  Biden administration calls on Russia to free jailed opposition leader Navalny as well as pro-democracy protesters The Biden administration's line on Russia is contrasting sharply with his predecessor's hand-off approach."We can both operate in the mutual self-interest of our country as a New START agreement, and make it clear to Russia that we are very concerned about their behavior, whether it's Navalny, whether it's the SolarWinds, or whether it's reports about bounties on the heads of Americans in Afghanistan," President Biden told reporters on Monday.

Putin Support

“There won’t be quick steps, but the erosion of the regime will definitely accelerate,” said Krasheninnikov. “This stress situation will force Putin and his circle to make mistakes.”

Of course, Kremlin critics have for years predicted the looming collapse of Putin’s support only to be disappointed. Polls show backing for him remains strong.

An early test for opponents comes Saturday, when Navalny’s allies plan rallies in dozens of cities. Authorities have already warned they wouldn’t grant permits and detained at least one organizer, moving at the same time to block websites promoting the events.

chart: Fading Appeal? © Bloomberg Fading Appeal?

While confrontation with Navalny carries risks of stoking popular anger at Putin’s continued rule, it also holds the potential prize of breaking the Kremlin’s most persistent opposition movement. The last major challenge -- which led to Putin’s 2003 imprisonment of billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky over Western protests -- signaled his rejection of any defiance of his power.

“In Russia now it’s more effective to fight the regime from prison than from exile,” said Khodorkovsky, who was forced to leave Russia in 2013 after his prison term. His case is a cautionary one: he, too, returned from abroad knowing he’d be jailed but underestimated the Kremlin’s resolve. “I thought I’d get 3-4 years at most, but it turned out to be 10.”

Russia arrested opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Widespread protests reveal the cracks in Putin’s support.

  Russia arrested opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Widespread protests reveal the cracks in Putin’s support. What’s happening in Russia, part 1. What does Navalny’s return — and the protests against his arrest — mean for Russian politics?

Dissent Crackdown

The Kremlin has pushed through legal changes to add new penalties for critics, as well as possibly block foreign social media that have been key organizing tools. Navalny’s supporters so far haven’t shown the fortitude of activists in Belarus, who’ve continued to protest for months despite beatings and arrests. Western criticism has been limited to rhetoric. Europe’s top diplomat is going ahead with a visit to Moscow next month -- the first of its kind in four years -- despite calls from some capitals to shelve it.

Still, German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday renewed calls for Navalny’s immediate release, suggesting his case is back at the top of the agenda in many Western capitals. Her comments triggered a modest slide in the ruble as investors worried new sanctions could be on the horizon, Rabobank said.

“It is extraordinary how frightened Vladimir Putin seems to be of one man,” Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state told senators this week. “I think that speaks volumes, and Mr. Navalny is a voice, I think, for millions and millions of Russians and their voice needs to be heard.”

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©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Opinions | Putin’s new war on the opposition suggests he sees it as a real threat .
Both sides seem to think the future of Russia is at stake. The Russian president chose the former, jailing Navalny and setting off an avalanche. As many as 120,000 people took to the streets over the weekend. That’s not significantly more than have protested in recent years, but the tone of the protests was markedly different. Opposition supporters who once demanded the end of censorship, changes of policy on issues such as pensions, or more transparent election processes are now marching for an immediate end to Putin’s reign as well as Navalny’s release.

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