Alexei navalny

After Putin: an interview with Navalny’s exiled chief of staff

Even with Alexei Navalny imprisoned, Russia’s opposition continues to struggle against Vladimir Putin and his quarter-century of Kremlin rule. This already daunting task has been made harder by the fact that key figures are now imprisoned or in exile: the opposition leader’s principal aides Vladimir Ashrukov and Leonid Volkov have fled to London and Vilnius respectively, while Navalny himself is serving a three-year prison sentence for supposed fraud. Still, his inner circle continues to plan Putin’s downfall from beyond Russia’s border ­— and they now believe they have the support to succeed. The first stage, Volkov tells me, is mass protests. Already Navalny’s movement has led to thousands of people rallying

Can Navalny the martyr weaken Putin?

Yesterday Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny achieved his martyrdom, with a panelled courtroom packed with journalists and Western diplomats standing in for Golgotha. A Moscow judge turned an outstanding two year, eight month suspended sentence for fraud into a prison term on the grounds that Navalny had missed probation hearings — dismissing as frivolous his excuse that he was lying in a Novichok-induced coma in a Berlin hospital bed at the time. In one sense, Navalny has achieved what he set out to do. Two weeks of street protests in 85 cities across Russia followed his arrest after a voluntary return from his German convalescence — the most serious overt

How Putin reacts in a crisis

Despite its evident distaste for fair elections, the Kremlin is highly sensitive to public opinion — Vladimir Putin even has his own secret service polling agency, which he uses to weigh up policy decisions and gauge his popularity. The Kremlin combines these tools with state-of-the-art propaganda to promote Putin’s cult of personality, which naturally imposes on Russians his singular ability to protect them from internal and external enemies. Whenever Putin’s popularity is threatened, state media amplifies and heightens such narratives. We have seen that in the last couple of weeks, as Russia has been gripped by nationwide protests against corruption and in support of opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. With the