The Face of Russia's Opposition - Who Is Alexei Navalny?

By Updated at 2017-12-28 04:53:20 +0000

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The Face of Russia's Opposition - Who Is Alexei Navalny?

The lawyer-turned-political campaigner has been among the most prominent figures of Russia's opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny came to prominence in 2008, when his blog exposing malpractice in Russian politics and among the country's major state-owned companies came to the public's attention. Revelations published on his blog even led to resignations, a rarity in Russian politics.

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Disputed parliamentary elections

In 2011, Navalny was arrested for the first time, spending 15 days in prison for his role at a rally outside the State Duma in Moscow.

The parliamentary election victory for Putin's United Russia was marred by instances of ballot stuffing, reported by demonstrators on social media. Upon his release, Navalny pledged to make "extraordinary efforts" to continue the protest movement.

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Second jail term

After being re-elected president in 2012, Putin ordered Russia's Investigative Committee to launch a criminal enquiry into Nivalny's past.

The following year the campaigner was charged and sentenced again, this time for five years, for alleged embezzlement in the city of Kirov. However, he was released the following day pending affirmation from a higher court. The sentence was later suspended.

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Anti-Kremlin platform grows

Despite being embroiled in legal troubles, Navalny was allowed to run in the 2013 Moscow mayoral election.

A second-place finish behind Putin-ally Sergei Sobyanin was seen as an overwhelming success and galvanized the Russian opposition movement.

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Navalny takes to social media

His anti-Kremlin rhetoric has led to Navalny being banned from appearing on Russian state-owned television.

That has forced him to deliver his political message over social media and his blog.

His talent for public speaking, punchy use of language and humorous mockery of Putin and his loyalists has mobilized a legion of young followers.

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Presidential ambitions

In December 2016, the opposition leader announced the formal start of his campaign to run for the Russian presidency in March 2018.

However, repeated accusations of corruption, which his supporters say are politically motivated, could ultimately bar him from running for public office.

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Convicted of corruption

In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia had violated Navalny's right to a fair trial in the Kirov case.

Although Russia's Supreme Court overturned the five-year sentence, the verdict was sent back to the Kirov court, which in 2017 again charged Navalny with a suspended five-year sentence. Navalny's challenge against the ruling remains ongoing.

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Moscow's biggest protests in six years

In February, 2017, anti-corruption rallies across dozens of Russian cities led to the arrests of over 1,000 demonstrators, including Navalny.

The protests, believed to have been the largest in the Russian capital since 2012, were spurred by a report published by Navalny linking Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to a billion-euro property empire. The presidential candidate was released 15 days later.

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Physically assaulted

Navalny was assaulted and hospitalized in April 2017 after being hit in the eye with a chemical green dye, permanently damaging his right cornea.

Navalny accused the Russian authorities of stopping him from seeking medical treatment abroad due to the embezzlement conviction against him. However, he was eventually permitted by the Kremlin human rights council to travel to Spain for eye surgery.


By David Martin/ Germany's public international broadcaster-DW


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