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  • On August 19, 2020, Russian politician, Alexei Navalny was shooting this campaign video.

  • He was in Siberia.

  • One of the many places where, in about 3 weeks, there would be local and regional elections.

  • But he wasn't running for office.

  • He was urging people to vote out the ruling party, United Russia, led by the president,

  • Vladimir Putin.

  • He's made many videos like this before and they usually rack up millions of views.

  • It's this ability to reach people via the internet that has helped make Navalny the

  • face of Russia's opposition movement.

  • Soon after making his case in Siberia, he got on a plane bound for Moscow.

  • But the plane was suddenly diverted to Omsk.

  • Navalny had been poisoned.

  • And collapsed on the plane.

  • An investigation later revealed that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a highly-toxic

  • nerve agent, that was developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

  • It was also used, likely by Russia in 2018 to attack Sergei Skirpal, a former spy.

  • Navalny survived the assassination attempt and set off a movement unlike any in recent

  • history.

  • So how did he do it?

  • And why is he such a big threat to Putin?

  • On December 31, 1999, Putin became the President of Russia.

  • The Soviet Union had collapsed just 8 years earlier and the new Russian Federation was

  • slowly transitioning to democracy.

  • Previously, Putin had been a spy in the Soviet KGB and head of the Russian security service.

  • Roles that shaped how he wanted to govern as President.

  • So, he was trying to remake Russia in the image of the KGB.

  • Like if everything in the world could be as centralized, insular, and secretive as the

  • KGB, it would work well.

  • So in order to maximize his control, Putin surrounded himself with the most powerful

  • elements in Russia.

  • Starting with the media.

  • Police were sent into Russia's independent media companies, charging their owners, and

  • bringing newsrooms under state control.

  • After federal television, it went on to regional television and then, it went to print newspapers.

  • It was like a flesh eating machine.

  • Whatever it could see that was functioning independently, it would gobble up next.

  • This hid Putin's actions from the public so he was able to go after another powerful

  • element - Russia's elections.

  • His regime manipulated who could run for office.

  • And that typically meant Putin's party and a few fake candidates, sanctioned by the regime.

  • This was designed to splinter the opposition vote.

  • And on top of that,

  • The vote counting is rigged.

  • Meaning that it was nearly impossible to run against Putin or his party.

  • And that United Russia had control of the central and local governments all across the country.

  • But politicians weren't the only threat to Putin.

  • He also went after Russia's oligarchs and their prominent friends to weed out some powerful

  • critics.

  • In the early 2000s, most of Russia's wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few, very

  • powerful men.

  • Putin protected those that swore loyalty to him.

  • And those who didn't were either arrested on trumped up charges or mysteriously killed.

  • So, the most common way to get rid of somebody.

  • Is to bring them up on embezzlement charges.

  • Former Russian oil tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has been found guilty of embezzlement.

  • Russian tycoon, Boris Berezovsky, convicted of embezzlement.

  • A former Russian business man, he was accused of embezzling money, Nikolay Glushkov, the

  • cause of death is still unexplained.

  • That's how the judiciary is weaponized.

  • With the law on his side, within a decade, Putin insulated himself with the most powerful

  • elements on all sides.

  • And it was all held together by corruption.

  • Corruption is a structural feature of the regime.

  • It's not an inefficiency of the regime.

  • It's not a drag on the regime.

  • It's the core of the regime.

  • According to a report, over $400 billion were lost to corruption in Russia between 2000

  • and 2008.

  • But because Putin controlled the media, much of it was hidden.

  • Until a young lawyer named Alexei Navalny found a way to change that.

  • In 2006, Navalny started a blog where he wrote about corruption.

  • In 2010, he wrote that at least $4 billion was stolen out of the state-owned transportation

  • company, Transneft.

  • And he had proof.

  • He had bought stock in the company and was able to access internal documents

  • that plainly showed how government money was funneled into offshore accounts owned

  • by Transneft officials.

  • And this was just the beginning.

  • Navalny soon published investigations on corrupt oil schemes, land deals, and fraud at state-owned

  • banks by Russian oligarchs and politicians.

  • By posting straight to his blog, Navalny was circumventing state media to reveal corruption

  • and expose Putin's regime in a way that Russians had never seen before.

  • All the while making a name for himself.

  • Like he thought that corruption was something knowable.

  • That that you could learn about it, you could systematize it.

  • And, again, you could take it seriously.

  • And I said, you know what?

  • I think we now have an actual politician in this country.

  • In 2011, huge protests erupted when Putin's party won a majority in parliament despite

  • reports of voter fraud.

  • It was the largest wave of demonstrations Putin's regime had ever faced.

  • And Navalny was one of the main organizers.

  • He was building on his investigations by speaking out publicly against corruption.

  • State television ignored the protests even as the police arrested more than 1,000 people

  • and went after the organizers.

  • One of the other ones was jailed, several were forced into exile, one was murdered,

  • Boris Nemstov.

  • And Navalny was the last guy standing.

  • Over time, he developed a talent for organizing protests and gained a following.

  • Then in 2013, he ran for mayor of Moscow.

  • And it stirred some controversy.

  • He had participated in Russian nationalist marches in the past.

  • And used ethnic slurs when referring to Russian minorities.

  • But people were still drawn to the main message of his campaign.

  • State TV didn't give his campaign any airtime, so he relied on rallies, online crowdsourcing,

  • and an army of volunteers to spread the word.

  • But, just as he was gaining momentum, police arrested him on trumped-up charges of embezzlement

  • and sentenced him to 5 years in jail.

  • His supporters flooded the streets in protest.

  • Navalny was eventually released on bail and didn't win the election.

  • But, he went on to finish second place.

  • He continued to expose corruption through Youtube videos.

  • Like this one, in 2017, on the extreme wealth of Putin's ally, Dmitri Medvedev.

  • It reached millions and sparked another round of protests.

  • At the same time, Navalny was running for office again.

  • This time, against Putin for President.

  • Predictably, the regime struck back and disqualified him based on the previous embezzlement charges.

  • Further revealing just how rigged Russia's laws and elections were.

  • But in 2020, Navalny found a way to take on the whole electoral system.

  • He called it Smart-Voting.

  • Instead of letting the opposition vote splinter among several dummy candidates, Navalny identified

  • one candidate and urged people to vote for the same one, even if they were backed by

  • Putin's regime.

  • It takes an incredible amount of public trust and charisma to get people to

  • unify behind a meaningless candidate.

  • But, its true, if you get enough people to do it, it actually can add up to meaningful resistance.

  • And it terrifies the Kremlin.

  • During that time, Navalny was the second most popular politician in all of Russia according

  • to some polls.

  • While Putin's favorability ratings were slipping because of a struggling economy.

  • That made Navalny a threat.

  • And it explains why he was poisoned, possibly more than once.

  • Once he was very weirdly ill and once his wife, Yulia, was very weirdly ill.

  • They were looking for an opportunity, a place and a time and it finally seemed like it was

  • almost perfect.

  • But I think they did expect that they would be rid of him by now and they're not.

  • After the Siberia attack, Navalny recovered in a German hospital where he miraculously

  • survived.

  • A few months later, he went back to his investigations.

  • In December 2020, he tricked the secret agent who poisoned him into revealing how he did

  • it.

  • Then, in January, he returned to Russia knowing he would be arrested.

  • Police met him at the airport, and charged him with violating the parole from his 2014

  • embezzlement case.

  • While detained, his team released another video, this one attacking Putin directly.

  • It's been viewed over 100 million times.

  • His supporters flooded the streets in over 100 cities across Russia.

  • A few days later, Navalny was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison, sparking even

  • more protests.

  • Police have arrested more than 5,000 people while state media has downplayed it.

  • Even though Navalny ended up in prison again, his movement continued to play out on the

  • streets.

  • By exposing Putin's regime for a decade, Navalny might have found a way to build a movement

  • that could outlast his freedom.

On August 19, 2020, Russian politician, Alexei Navalny was shooting this campaign video.

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Why Putin wants Alexei Navalny dead

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/26
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