Friday, October 1, 2021

New Charges Against Navalny Show How Close Putin’s Russia is to Restoration of Notorious Article 58 of Soviet Criminal Code, Albats Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 28 – If one compares the language prosecutors are using to charge imprisoned opposition leader Aleksey Navalny with the provisions of the notorious Article 58 used to carry out Stalin’s Great Terror, one finds there is little to choose between them, according to Yevgeniya Albats, the editor in chief of The New Times.

            That convergence of prosecutorial practice now with that which was put in motion with the adoption of Article 58 in 1927 has three important lessons, two for the Russian people and one for the Russian elite, the latter of which still seems oblivious to what is going on in the Kremlin, she suggests (

            First of all, Albats says, it show that despite all the efforts the Kremlin made more or less successfully to guarantee the results it wanted in the recent elections, that was not enough to still concerns that there are still many people in Russia who don’t approve of Vladimir Putin and United Russia.

            Second, it shows just how paranoid Putin and his Kremlin entourage are about Navalny and how much of a victory Navalny in prison and his aides who are in emigration won against those who appeared to have all power in their hands. Their action shows that the powers that be recognize that they are weak and have to strike out against others.

            And third, this action and the resemblance of charges against Navalny to Article 58 should be frightening those around Putin. After all, just over six years after it was adopted, Stalin convened the 17th party congress, the so-called “congress of the victors” and then he proceeded in the following four years to destroy most of those who were in fact his appointees and supporters.

            Of the 1956 delegates to the congress, 1108 were arrested and accused of counterrevolutionary crimes. Of the 139 members of the Central Committee, 97 were arrested and of these 93 were shot. Five more committed suicide.  Those are figures that anyone thinking about how useful a new Article 58 campaign would be should remember.

            You Vainos, Mishustinas, Kiriyenkos, Volodins and Naryshkins and other like them should be so frightened by that prospect that they will take action against those in the Security Council and Investigative Committee, Albats says. But there is no evidence that they are going to. Instead, they appear to be the latest versions of mankurts.

            Beyond doubt, Putin’s judiciary will find Navalny guilty and sentence him to more years behind bars. The real question, the editor suggests is how many of those around Putin will follow him after that happens. It is definitely something they should be thinking about.


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