The trial and subsequent miraculous release of Alexei Navalny have caused an outburst of anger in the democratic community, followed by great celebration. But who has really benefited from the behind-the-scenes games and sincere protests surrounding this opposition leader?
We are not for Navalny—we are against repression
The case against Navalny is the latest act of political repression intended to discredit the democratic movement that emerged in the wake of the 2011 Duma elections. It is a another link in the same chain as the false trials of the May 6 activists [twelve protesters who are being charged with allegedly injuring police officers during clashes at a 2012 anti-Putin protest—Trans.]. Navalny’s release, under the condition that he not leave Moscow, is the result of clandestine intrigues whose ostensible end goal is legitimizing the coming re-election of Sobyanin to the post of mayor.
We don’t know whether Navalny is guilty of what he was charged with. However, we are convinced that Putin’s so-called justice system, which blindly obeys the Kremlin’s will and has become an instrument of political revenge, should not be the one to hand down the verdict on an opposition activist. It is not for a government of oligarchs, who earned their billions through years of criminal privatization, robbing the country every moment of every day, to charge someone with corruption and deception.
From the government’s perspective, Navalny’s crime is not his rightist and populist political agenda, but his efforts to use the support of the masses in his struggle for power. In this lies his transgression. Thus, we believe that we must speak out against the repression of Alexei Navalny and his supporters.
At the same time, we consider the attempts of liberal leaders and journalists to turn Navalny into the sole icon of the democratic movement immoral. The brave activists arrested during the May 6 protests and leftist political activists Alexey Gaskarov, Sergey Udaltsov, and Leonid Razvozzhayev are all facing long prison terms; they cannot expect such merciful gestures from the prosecution. They need our support—probably even more than Alexei Navalny does.
No trust for Navalny the politician
Although we decry the political nature of the Navalny verdict, we do not believe that his repression constitutes sufficient reason for supporting him.
His political program was developed with the participation of neoliberal [Sergei] Guriev, one of the authors of the odious Russian Academy of Sciences reforms [see here: -Ed http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/russian-academy-of-sciences-to-be-overhauled/482448.html]. Navalny calls for the creation of a “competitive arena” in the housing and public utilities sector, education, and health care, which will only lead to the closing of “ineffective” clinics and schools in accordance with the will of those in power, causing further class segregation. The program is a prime example of rightist demagogy.
Navalny has no recipe for fighting corruption. All he is putting forward is giving “the best people” unlimited power, following the example of authoritarian governments such as Georgia and Singapore, which are hell for the working class. The “democratic” mayoral candidate’s racist and homophobic views are also beneath contempt.
It is significant that Navalny’s program was written by the same specialists who were, not long ago, the ideologues and developers of current government policy. Essentially, these are the same policies meant to be implemented by new means; based on public opinion, referendums, and volunteer projects. Didn’t Dmitry Medvedev also speak of “direct” and “electronic” democracy? Isn’t Vladimir Putin “fighting corruption”? “Transparency” and “civilian oversight” cannot exist where there is such a wide gap between rich and poor, where business interests are openly prioritized.
Let the streets speak!
By facilitating the registration of Navalny’s candidacy and including him in the roster of candidates from officially tolerated political parties, the Moscow administration aimed to play out the comedy of “fair elections” on the stage of the Russian capital.
We cannot vote for any of the candidates in this election while Sergey Udaltsov [leader of the Left Front party, on house arrest since February 2013—Trans.] is barred from participating. He was the only candidate whose program could have won critical support from the left.
In opposition to the neoliberal order of the municipal government, as symbolized by the policies of acting mayor Sergey Sobyanin, we call for active participation in protests and acts of civil disobedience during the election period. We demand the release of all political prisoners and call for an end to repression; the right to free protests, marches, demonstrations, and strikes; and the democratization of the legislation regulating elections.
We call the leftist and civil rights activists of the city to participate in the creation of an active coordinating body or bloc for the facilitation of the ongoing battle for the social, labor, and civil rights of all Muscovites, regardless of their nationality or origin.
July 23, 2013. Central Committee of the Russian Socialist Movement
—Translated by Bela Shayevich