Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Navalny Remembered Beyond the Ring Road as ‘the Muscovite Beloved in Russia’s Regions’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 16 --  Aleksey Navalny, murdered by Putin last week, had a checkered record as far as non-Russians are concerned because of his start as a Moscow politician initially allied with Russian nationalists and of his opposition to non-Russian aspirations (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/02/navalny-still-hasnt-faced-up-to-russian.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/07/no-reason-for-russia-to-disintegrate.html).

            But in the wake of his death, Navalny is being remembered outside of Moscow as “a Muscovite beloved in Russia’s regions,” the 7x7 regional portal says, both because his views had changed and because, unlike many Moscow politicians, he devoted attention to organizing and supporting groups in the regions (semnasem.org/articles/2024/02/16/put-navalnogo).

            Those groups, known as Navalny staffs, were set up most of the country’s federal subjects of the country; and despite serious repressive actions by the Putin regime, at least 45 operate at least informally. As a result, they are one of Navalny’s most important legacy and a step that other Russian politicians, including even Putin, ignore at their peril.

            Navalny emerged as a politician focused on Moscow – he sought and lost election as mayor – and with close ties to the nationalist Russian March. He was also criticized by non-Russians for his failure to condemn Putin’s Anschluss of Crimea and to support non-Russian aspirations for more than economic rights.

            But after his defeat in Moscow, Navalny sought to become a country-wide politician. He broke with the Russian March and adopted policies more in tune with Russia as a whole rather than just with Moscow such as fighting corruption and decentralizing power. And to that end, he organized Navalny staffs first to back presidential candidacy and then for broader purposes.

            He visited these places on the opening of the staffs and kept in touch with them. Many who took part were initially not so much Navalny supporters as Russians looking for structures that would allow them to be in touch with others having similar regional or national agendas. Indeed, that is one of the reasons they will likely continue even after his murder.

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