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Alexei Navalny (centre) in Tsverskaya Street, Moscow, 2017. Wikipedia
Moscow

Russian duo pranks Yale supporter of anti-Putin lame duck Navalny

The manager of a US Ivy-league fellowship program boasted about "training revolutionaries", while taking credit for turning Aleksei Navalny into a Russian opposition figure to pranksters Vovan and Lexus.

Published: July 24, 2018, 8:55 am

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    The Russian prankster-duo released the audio of their conversation with Timothy Stumph, associate director of the Yale Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program, aimed at shaping emerging world leaders. The international four-month program was attended by Navalny in 2010, RT reported.

    By impersonating Polish education minister Jaroslaw Gowin, the duo questioned Stumph on Yale’s motives for handing Navalny a prestigious fellowship. Navalny may have been taught at Yale “to destroy Russia” the prankster suggests. Laughing, Stumph responds: “I know! Well, hopefully not destroy, but – improve, you can say, yes.”

    Stumph also happily admits: “I’ve given up any hope of ever obtaining a Russian visa at this point. They would never let me into their country.”

    Clearly the Yale world fellows programme is being used as a tool against Russia, as another prominent Russian opposition figure was also invited to join the programme: Leonid Volkov. He is Navalny’s chief campaign manager.

    “We have very high expectations for him!” Stumph told the prankster, adding that Volkov would help to promote the “idea of democracy in Russia”.

    The duo, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov, is well-known for pranking high-level figures of the Neo-conservative Kommentariat such as US Congresswoman Maxine Waters, British politician Boris Johnson and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Navalny supporters at a recent demonstration. YouTube

    Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg were convicted in a 2014 fraud trial related to their work for French cosmetics company Yves Rocher. Alexei received a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence while his brother was jailed for the same amount of time.

    Independent polls show that Navalny’s rating is just 1 percent these days after a succession of corruption scandals, including embezzlement charges, most notably accusing him of stealing timber and defrauding Yves Rocher. Navalny has actually agreed to pay compensation in the Rocher case.

    Alexei is a constant critic of President Vladimir Putin, and has served repeated short jail sentences, the most recent a 30-day sentence for organising an unsanctioned protest against Putin’s inauguration for a fourth Kremlin term. He was freed the day the World Cup started in Russia this month.

    The 42-year-old was barred from running in the Russian presidential elections because of his criminal record. Yet Western media outlets describe Navalny as the “charismatic Yale-educated lawyer”, “anti-corruption campaigner”, “handsome” and brave.

    In 2013, the Kremlin allowed Navalny to run for Moscow mayor, hoping he would embarrass himself. And despite what the Western media may lead one to believe, it has all been downhill since then for the Yale graduate.

    A drone view of a protest organised by Navalny show the correct number of protesters. Photo supplied

    A carefully angled photo of the most recent anti-Putin rally on January 28th from CNN show “thousands” of protesters. However, a drone view is less flattering, especially when the adoring throngs of Western journalists that turn up at these events, are discounted.

    Initially, Navalny had managed to organised mass rallies in Russia, his biggest one to date being an anti-Medvedev demonstration, against Russia’s Prime Minister, on March 26th, 2017. The rally was touted as an “anti-corruption” action, aimed against Dmitri Medvedev, with allegations of him having accrued mass wealth. Across Russia, many protesters turned up to support an anti-corruption drive, also since Medvedev’s popularity is far lower than that of President Putin.

    In the Western press, these protests were however described as “anti-Kremlin” and “anti-Putin”, although this simply was never the case, as Putin was never on the ticket.

    Navalny’s theatrical stunts these days comprise of ignoring city bylaws governing demonstrations, which inevitably lead to his detention for an hour or so. The “martyr” then tweets about his “arrest”.

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