Navalny: Russian Laurent Louis or an ordinary provocateur?
The Grand Chamber of the ECHR will meet in Strasbourg on January, 24 to review the case of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, again, since on February, 2 2017 the ECHR had ruled in the Navalny vs. Russia case: there were violations, but no political motive by the state. Will the decision be the same now, after Navalny's bid for the presidency of the Russian Federation failed?
Published: January 23, 2018, 10:41 pm
However, the complaints of Navalny – perhaps, the most famous opposition in Russia, who has gained popularity with videos about corruption in the highest echelons of power ‒ do not deal with the election. During the first two years of Vladimir Putin’s third term (2012 to 2014) he had been charged with administrative penalties seven times for organising unauthorized rallies and participating in them. For the same violations, the punishment varied: five times he was fined, and put under 15 days of arrest after serving 7 days.
At that time the Court decided that Navalny’s rights to freedom and personal inviolability, to a fair trial and to freedom of assembly and association (articles 5, 6, 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights) were indeed violated. Why was Navalny not satisfied with the fact that the ECHR refused to recognise the political underpinnings of these actions by the Russian authorities in dismissing the charges of violations of articles 14 (“prohibition of discrimination”) and 18 (“limits of the use of restrictions on rights”) of this Convention.
Navalny insists: all this time he was persecuted as a politician, and the purpose of the persecution is to crush the opposition. The Russian Laurent Louis, who fights the system on his own – that is how he is being portrayed. Similarly to Louis, Navalny has flirted with nationalist rhetoric, uncovered stories that had been buried or that people had just been afraid to tell. But, unlike Louis, he has never criticised the United States of America.
Recently the Russian Constitutional Court ended Navalny’s bid to participate in the presidential election in Russia. It is scheduled for March 18, and incumbent President Vladimir Putin will stand for a fourth time, with Navalny considered to be his main rival.
Research by Russian sociologists show that the antagonist have no real chance of defeating the long-standing Russian leader, while Navalny himself, as well as a number of high-ranking North American and European politicians, maintain that Putin is afraid of Navalny, seeing him as a “threat” in a repeat of the Ukrainian scenario in Russia.
Formally, the evidence considered by the ECHR, as well as the measures taken against Navalny, played no part in barring Navalny from participating in election. The Central Election Commission, and then the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, ruled instead that Navalny’s criminal conviction prevented him from registering as a presidential candidate. A case of embezzlement was brought against him at the enterprise ‘Kirovles’, located in one of the northern regions of Russia ‒ the Kirov region. Navalny was then an advisor to the governor of this region, Nikita Belykh, who is currently accused of receiving a large bribe and under arrest.
Navalny himself was found guilty of committing this crime, which according to Russian legislation is classified as particularly serious. He was given a suspended sentence: that is, left at large, where he continued to engage in political activities, becoming one of the leaders of a small Russian opposition.
Notably, the ECHR never considered the “Kirovles case”, but rather focused on the detention of Navalny at rallies. Alexei Navalny is thus questioning the legitimacy of the election, because it is politically expedient to ignore accusations of state plundering but not how the politician’s rights are said to have been trampled.
Navalny, in particular, claims that the police had no reason to push him into the special vehicle each time and take him to the station instead of writing a protocol on violations on the spot. Hence, their goal was to neutralize him, to deliberately deprive him of the right to say what he thinks, a politically motivated decision to deprive him of the opportunity to accuse the Russian authorities of corruption and lawlessness.
Photographic evidence of those meetings where these detentions took place and the accompanying descriptions of those events may point to a different plan, however.
The scheme of an unauthorised rally in Russia is a familiar one. A protest gathering where some “reasonable” slogans are being displayed, becomes tense when the police repeatedly asks the gathered to disperse, in order to adhere to legal requirements. The once orderly and calm atmosphere becomes unruly, and then someone ‒ of course, not Navalny himself ‒ “accidentally” pushes one of the policemen, setting fire to a combustible mix as tempers flare.
Scuffles ensue, detentions follow and likely violence too: It becomes a perfect opportunity to take photographs of demonstrators suffering the blows of a police baton, but not to document the bloodied law enforcers. Do the latter deserve that? And are the protesters really prisoners of conscience?
It may all have been accidents, but such incidents are regularly presented as examples of police brutality and aggression.
In scrutinising the recent cases of approvals and disapprovals of Navalny’s meetings in Russia, we see a paradoxical tendency. One can not help but notice that the truth is that Navalny’s requests for rallies are more often approved than rejected.
It is an established fact that Navalny is either often a no-show at scheduled rallies or calls on supporters to suddenly change the location. At any rate, he seems to be doing his utmost to elicit disapproval from authorities.
It may even be that by inviting clashes with police – an inevitable outcome in the case of an illegal public gathering – the real goal of Alexei Navalny becomes apparent, since skirmishes with law enforcement are always a threat to safety, even to casual passers-by. For any provocateur, affected “civilians” would actually be a godsend. Is the same thing true in the case of Navalny?
The Russians have a saying: “It’s good where we do not exist” meaning that the underdog always has an advantage in a stand-off. But for Europeans it may be that worshipping the underdog is easier in a different country, not too close to home. Those who struggle with power, who overthrow regimes, and who arrange excitement, are not necessarily always national heroes.
In Brussels, on November 26, 2017, the rally against slavery in Libya turned into a massacre after about 30 people in balaclavas appeared among the demonstrators. They headed to the street of Louise, where they began to smash shopfronts. They felt that their right to speak was above someone’s right to private property, to health and safety.
And these are the words of the mayor of Brussels Philippe Clos on that day: “Provocateur behavior is unacceptable, and the police response ‒ immediate and tough.” Was there a time and a desire for the subordinates of mayor Clos to draft protocols on the ground, and was there any political motive linked to their actions? And would the owners of the affected shops and boutiques object to law enforcement immediately intervening in the “unacceptable behavior provocateurs”?
Russians raise a question that Europeans too may ponder: what kind of freedom is absolute? Which right is inherent? Freedom and the right to a rally, including an unauthorised one? Or freedom and the right to security, including ‒ to life?
It may be possible that the timely detention of Navalny ‒ not discounting the violations and excesses of authority ‒ had helped the Russians to avoid mass clashes between the police and demonstrators, and to avoid dozens of arrested, scores of injured, and mounting manufactured discontent.
All rights reserved. You have permission to quote freely from the articles provided that the source (www.freewestmedia.com) is given. Photos may not be used without our consent.
Consider donating to support our work
Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.
Keep your language polite. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in, for example, Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.
If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violations of any law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.
If your comments are subject to preview by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.
We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.
Thousands of Flemish farmers block roads in Brussels against nitrogen policy
BrusselsMore than 2500 farmers from Belgium's Dutch-speaking Flanders region gathered at Brussels' central Arts-Loi street and blocked roads with tractors toward Brussels to protest the regional government's plan to limit nitrogen emissions.
Orban: EU energy sanctions costing citizens billions
BudapestHungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has warned that some western states could soon send troops to Ukraine. He also criticized the fact that the EU sanctions against Russia had cost Hungarian taxpayers tens of billions of euros.
Italy: New leader of the Social Democrats is one of Soros’ ‘preferred politicians’
RomeDuring the election campaign, Elly Schlein presented herself as the standard-bearer of the poorest. However, her background and previous work raise doubts about her honesty.
UK greenhouses shut down due to high energy costs
LondonIn Great Britain, a particularly depressing facet of the crisis is now showing its first contours - and thus anticipating what is likely to happen in other European countries in the near future: because of the exploding energy prices, agriculture is being strangled and fresh produce has to be rationed.
Lisbon opens borders to all Portuguese speakers
LisbonNot only the German and Italian governments keep opening new paths for immigration. Portugal, too, has opened a Pandora's box and is paving the way for possibly millions of non-European immigrants to the EU – something which is not mentioned by the mainstream media.
Illegal immigration to Italy has reached its highest level ever
RomeIn Italy, despite the overwhelming right-wing electoral success in September, there is still nothing to be seen of the promised asylum turnaround – on the contrary. Giorgia Meloni has been in office for five months, but the arrivals of migrants in Italy have doubled compared to the previous year.
Dismantling diplomacy with ‘feminist foreign policy’
BudapestGerman Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) wants to counter German security issues abroad with feminist politics. Gender training, LGBTQ events and quotas are now part of their new guidelines, which are intended to bring about "cultural change". The German ambassador to Hungary, Julia Gross, provided an embarrassing example.
Germans demand investigation of Nord Stream sabotage
BerlinAfter the sensational revelations by US investigative reporter Seymour Hersh about the perpetrators of the Nord Stream attacks on September 26, 2022, the German government has remained silent. It does not want to comment on Hersh's research results, according to which the pipelines were blown up by Americans and Norwegians.
Macron mulling withdrawal of Putin’s Legion of Honour award
ParisAt the end of Jacques Chirac's term in 2007, France and Russia still maintained cordial relations. During his speech at a tripartite summit, the French president had even mentioned bilateral relations that were "excellent in all respects, particularly in the fields of energy, infrastructure and aeronautics".
UN dossier sounds the alarm : ISIS cells eye Balkan route
New YorkThe risk that terrorists could reach the Mediterranean coasts is growing. A UN dossier has warned that jihadists have been crossing the Balkans in attempts to reach the EU.