Russia’s Navalny Came Home, and is Now Going to Prison #105

Deepnews Digest #105

Russia’s Navalny Came Home, and is Now Going to Prison

Editor: Christopher Brennan
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to more than three years in prison only weeks after returning to his home country from Berlin, where he was treated for a poisoning believed to be aimed at silencing him. Beyond the personal story, the sentence has implications for the opposition movement writ large, Russia’s political leaders, and geopolitics, with many countries condemning the prosecution. This week we used our algorithm to gather in-depth articles on all the angles, all spotlighted with the Deepnews Scoring Model.

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Bellingcat

Navalny Poison Squad Implicated in Murders of Three Russian Activists

In our previous investigation, we disclosed the existence of a clandestine unit within the FSB’s Criminalistics Institute, members of which had shadowed opposition leader Alexey Navalny for nearly five years. Members of the unit with medical and chemical-weapons background, travelling in groups of two or three, had followed Navalny on more than 30 flights during his 2017 presidential election campaign. Three members of this squad had been near him during a suspected poisoning of his wife in July 2020, and during his near-fatal poisoning in August 2020.

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The Independent (UK)

Desperate conditions for inmates as Kremlin crackdown overwhelms jails

Prisoners fill the cell’s bare floors like a carpet of horror. In the corner, a stinking latrine, brought into action at very human intervals. Everywhere else, bodies, trying to sleep without sheets or mattresses, in a space designed for a third of their number. And they were the lucky ones.

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Editor’s Note:

Beyond the sentence to Navalny, hundreds of his supporters have been jailed after pouring out into the streets to protest. Here our algorithm highlighted a piece from The Independent’s Oliver Carroll on the influx of detainees. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

New Yorker

Across Russia, Pro-Navalny Demonstrations Continue to Build Momentum

Irina Bogantseva, who is sixty-eight, teaches social studies at a prestigious private school, which she started in 1992 and ran until a couple of years ago. Before she founded the school, Bogantseva was an activist and, briefly, a member of the Moscow city council. In August, 1991, she drafted the resolution that removed the monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet secret police, from Moscow’s Lubyanka Square. In 2011 and 2012, like hundreds of thousands of other Muscovites, she took part in mass protests against rigged elections. In 2014, when Russia occupied Crimea, Bogantseva decided to return to the classroom. “Being able to speak out, at least there, saved me from just crashing,” she told me, over Zoom, from Moscow.

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POLITICO

Alexei Navalny’s sweet online revenge on Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW — Just after Alexei Navalny woke up from the coma he’d been in since being poisoned with a deadly nerve agent, one of his closest aides suggested that the time had come to target Vladimir Putin.

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Meduza

‘We just want Russia to be better’ Meduza looks back on the January 31 opposition protests in a dispatch from St. Petersburg

Protesters across Russia took to the streets for the second weekend in a row on January 31, to oppose the detention of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Once again, the city of St. Petersburg emerged as a focal point of the demonstrations, in part because of the violent actions of local police. In addition to beating up protesters, police officers used tasers while detaining demonstrators and arrested more than a thousand people in total. In a dispatch from St. Petersburg, Meduza looks back on the day’s events.

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Washington Post

Navalny’s jailing was a Groundhog Day for Russian democracy

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s sentencing in a Moscow courtroom on Tuesday came, fittingly, on Groundhog Day. The aptness has nothing to do with large rodents predicting the weather, but with the 1993 film starring Bill Murray, in which the helpless protagonist wakes up to an alarm clock that starts the same day over and over.

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The Economist

Why Germany won’t kill Nord Stream 2

In the chill waters off Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic sea, a complex game of cat-and-mouse is playing out. A flotilla of Russian boats is rushing to complete the construction of Nord Stream 2, a 1,230km (765-mile) gas pipeline that would double capacity from Russia to Germany. Less than 150km of it remains to be built. Meanwhile, the American government, armed with sanctions legislation, is picking off companies it suspects of involvement. As the saga enters its endgame, the pipeline’s fate may depend on the outcome of this race.

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Reuters

Kremlin confident it can ride out protests, ready to use more force: sources

The Kremlin believes it can easily ride out nationwide protests over the arrest and jailing of opposition politician Alexei Navalny and is ready to authorise the use of more force against demonstrators if necessary, two sources close to it said.

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Sky News

It was the stuff of nightmares on Moscow’s equivalent of Regent Street under Russian Christmas lights

The Kremlin says it is the protesters who are the hooligans and provocateurs. So does state TV. That is not how it looks from ground level.

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Human Rights Watch

No Better Time for EU to Press for Human Rights in Russia

It’s an understatement to say that Josep Borrell’s first visit to Russia in his capacity as the European Union’s foreign affairs chief is a major event.

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Euro News

EU’s foreign affairs chief visits Russia amid Navalny jailing fallout

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, heads to Moscow today for a three-day visit during which he is set to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

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Editor’s Note:

Navalny’s case is followed closely around the world, including in Europe. This piece highlighted by our algorithm from Euronews looks at the current situation for European leaders including the Navalny sentence, energy and the Russian COVID vaccine’s potential use in the EU. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

LA Times

For Putin, the most personal of challenges from a determined political foe

In some respects, the Russian president’s two-decade grip on power seems secure enough. His nemesis, anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, is bound for a Russian penal colony. Putin’s security forces have swept up record numbers of protesters and threaten more mass detentions if unrest persists. Foreign criticism pours in, while the Kremlin contemptuously brushes it aside.

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The Moscow Times

Navalny Also Needs to Reach Russia’s ‘Men in Grey Suits’

Protesters across Russia took to the streets for the second weekend in a row on January 31, to oppose the detention of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Once again, the city of St. Petersburg emerged as a focal point of the demonstrations, in part because of the violent actions of local police. In addition to beating up protesters, police officers used tasers while detaining demonstrators and arrested more than a thousand people in total. In a dispatch from St. Petersburg, Meduza looks back on the day’s events. Street protests rarely bring about political change in isolation, actual change usually comes from self-interested elites.

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Reuters

Not just Navalny: economic pain also behind Russian protests

Malaysian retail investors are looking to buy stocks of medical glove makers to drive up their share prices and squeeze out short sellers, drawing inspiration from the recent rally at U.S. firm GameStop Corp .

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CNN

Russian doctor who treated Navalny after poisoning has died

A top doctor at the Russian hospital where opposition leader Alexey Navalny was treated immediately after his poisoning last summer has died, the hospital said on Thursday.

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ABC News

Navalny’s jailing marks new moment for Kremlin: ANALYSIS

When a Moscow court ruled on Tuesday to send Alexey Navalny to a prison colony for two years and eight months, the Russian opposition leader shrugged and smiled.

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AFP

Belarusian opposition leader: ‘Listen to the people’, Tikhanovskaya tells Putin

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in an interview with AFP called on Russia to “listen to the people” after protests over the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

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Editor’s Note:

Closer to Moscow, the events around Navalny are also being watched by Russia’s neighbors. Here our model picked up an interview that the AFP got from Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the leader of the Belarusian opposition who fled to Lithuania. – Christopher Brennan, Editor

The Moscow Times

The Danger that Alexei Navalny’s Prison Sentence Poses for Russia

It removes the last remnants of trust, without which society cannot develop

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Meduza

‘They asked why I don’t support Putin’ After the January 23 protest in Astrakhan, police unlawfully detained a 22-year-old student and used her social media to incite protests. Here’s her story.

On January 23, hundreds of thousands of people across Russia took part in massive demonstrations in support of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny. In the city of Astrakhan, several hundred people attended a large rally that turned into a march through the city center. Though the rest of the country saw mass arrests, there were no detentions reported in Astrakhan. However, a local student named Vera Inozemtseva later filed a complaint against the police with state investigators: according to the 22-year-old, police officers unlawfully detained her after the rally and then used her social media accounts to post calls for further protests. For Meduza, Vera recounts the story of her abduction and subsequent arrest, in her own words.

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Chatham House

Russia Divided

Alexei Navalny may be jailed but Putin is the one under siege. 2020 had seemed to go the Russian president’s way in reinforcing his status as the irreplaceable ‘National Leader’, resolving the succession dilemma by ruling it out until 2030 or even 2036, and changing the system of government into one of autocratic hegemony, meaning increased powers of repression and tighter limits on the rights and freedoms of Russia’s citizens.

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