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Russian opposition leader in a coma

Vorpal

Administrator
Administrator
Pretty bad news for the Kremlin if he dies. Navalny is like a more loathsome and much less popular version of Marine Le Pen, and any opposition movement he attaches himself to is rendered ineffective, which is trait useful to those in power. Without people like Navalny, Venediktov, etc., there might* actually be political opposition that's worth a damn in Russia.

I wouldn't bet much on it, though, heh.
 

Wakko

Well-known member
there might* actually be political opposition that's worth a damn in Russia
Well, Navalny and similar scammers are great at killing the pro-Western opposition, while United Russia does good job at smothering pro-Russian opposition. The signature requirements for parties without current representation trying to gain some, and the way they're abused... not cool.
Anyway, I wonder what will Navalny have to say to the whole story. If he gets behind the government-ordered-poisoning story, he's finished as a political force in Russia since 99% of Russians won't ever say his name without spitting.
 

Vorpal

Administrator
Administrator
Navalny is recovering and planning to return to Russia.
[New York Times] “Hello, it’s Navalny,” he said in an Instagram post with a picture of himself sitting up in a hospital bed surrounded by his wife and other relatives. “I can still do almost nothing, but yesterday I could breathe the entire day by myself,” he added. “I recommend it,” he said with characteristic irony.

The message came hours after a senior German security official told The New York Times that Mr. Navalny was awake, alert and had told German judiciary officials that he was refusing to cooperate with a Russian inquiry into his case. He also vowed, according to the official, to return to Russia as soon as possible to continue his work. Mr. Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, confirmed on Tuesday that Mr. Navalny planned to return to Russia.
 

Wakko

Well-known member
Navalny is recovering and planning to return to Russia.
I will be very surprised if that actually happens. I don't see how Navalny can be anything other than an expat 'regime fighter' after this incident. To be able to appeal to Russians he must not be seen as a western puppet, which would mean torpedoing this nice Skripal II story. But if he does that, his western funds will dry out. He could even lose whatever he has stashed abroad. And going back to Russia while saying that the government (or Putin, or United Russia, or whoever among the political elites) wants him dead, that would be turn him into a clown.
 

Vorpal

Administrator
Administrator
I will be very surprised if that actually happens. I don't see how Navalny can be anything other than an expat 'regime fighter' after this incident. To be able to appeal to Russians he must not be seen as a western puppet, which would mean torpedoing this nice Skripal II story. But if he does that, his western funds will dry out.
Good point, but OTOH his electoral chances now aren't substantively worse than they were before this mess. Whether he'll actually return to Russia depends on whose toes he thinks he stepped on and whether he'll continue* his more practical function: facilitating the release of information on corruption schemes on those his backers find inconvenient. This is a service that he doesn't need to be electable to perform; it's not like he ever was anyway.

*He might not after the recent closing of FBK.
 

Wakko

Well-known member
Whether he'll actually return to Russia depends on whose toes he thinks he stepped on
You think he was really poisoned? If he was, and it wasn't detected in Russia, and he was sent to Germany (and especially Charite) with actual poison inside him, then Bortnikov needs to hand in his resignation. That would be some really facepalming incompetence - actually, more likely real sabotage.
 

Vorpal

Administrator
Administrator
You think he was really poisoned? If he was, and it wasn't detected in Russia, and he was sent to Germany (and especially Charite) with actual poison inside him, then Bortnikov needs to hand in his resignation. That would be some really facepalming incompetence - actually, more likely real sabotage.
I wouldn't be too surprised either way, especially since being poisoned and being poisoned with novichok can be distinct. It's not like Navalny is without enemies in Russia.

For practical purposes, it doesn't even really matter much at this point. On a personal level, if I were in Navalny's shoes considering being a professional regime fighter from abroad like we were considering, it would definitely occur to me that I'd probably be much more effective in this role dead than alive, so it's not only domestic factions on whose toes might be stepped on. And on a state political level, I don't see much difference about reality of novichok, at least in the sense that's it's not likely to affect anyone's actions much, if at all. Either way, it's a political problem most immediately for Merkel's faction but the EU more broadly, under the assumption that it was the case.

But yeah, the level of complete farce it would take for (say) FSB to poison Navalny with novichok, fail to kill him, and then ship him off to the Germans, is staggering. Which is why Russia will most likely act under the assumption that this is a stupid political game from Western intelligence agencies as a response to the Belorussian mess. Merkel and Macron can engineer any sanctions from hell that they like—that's why in the end, it's mainly Merkel/EU problem of how to balance their own politics and sovereignty. But I really doubt they're dumb enough to think that Russia, either the state or the majority of its population, will believe them just because white gentlemen are taken at their word, so their indignation won't change much of anything in Russia.
 

Wakko

Well-known member
Which is why Russia will most likely act under the assumption that this is a stupid political game from Western intelligence agencies as a response to the Belorussian mess.
At first I thought that it's Germany seeking a face-saving way of backing out of NS-2 (since, let's face it, US can destroy German economy in 5 minutes if Trump decides that that's what he wants to do before lunch), but then I came to the same conclusion as you mention here - that it's part of the pressure on Russia to stop helping Lukashenko (well, fat chance). Lukashenko certainly sees it that way too, since his 'intercepted call about Navalny' reaction was so fast.
Btw Dmytro Dzhangirov had an interesting theory about the call. He said that there are 2 possible extremes - one that it's completely fake and the other that it's completely true. The former is improbable because fakes aren't usually voiced by the president himself, the latter is very unlikely because the call just sounded so fake. But then there's a 3rd option - that it's a composite of several calls intercepted over some longer time frame, and that it's a way of signaling "we have stuff on you if you don't back off." And I had to laugh when a couple days later Luki said in his interview to Russian journalists that they do have more intercepted and very interesting stuff on the Navalny case. Dzhangirov seems to have good instincts not only on their internal Ukrainian situation.
 

Wakko

Well-known member
So what's really going on... this entire Navalny affair is stupid as fuck and it's obvious some serious cloak and dagger is going on.
Nobody knows. Navalny could have been poisoned, but the Novichok story is sooo ridiculous, especially if somebody would want to say that it was the government who poisoned Navalny. But notice that so far neither Germany, nor France are directly charging the Russian government or Putin with attempted poisoning of Navalny, they're just demanding thorough investigation. It looks like a negotiation tactic, as they can still raise the stakes if necessary if they don't get what they want. If they wanted real investigation they would provide their probes, which they refuse to do, so I think they want something else. The only other thing that fits is Russian involvement with Lukashenko, which is blocking transfer of power in Belarus to Western-backed forces.
 

Inquisitor Solarion

Well-known member
To be honest, if Belarus is thrown into the equation, it complicates things. Can the Germans and French rein in the Swedes, Poles, Balts and the Americans? I doubt it. The latter have had a grudge against Russia and I doubt the French and Germans can offer much on that front.
 

Wakko

Well-known member
To be honest, if Belarus is thrown into the equation, it complicates things. Can the Germans and French rein in the Swedes, Poles, Balts and the Americans? I doubt it. The latter have had a grudge against Russia and I doubt the French and Germans can offer much on that front.
I don't see this being about grudges. Turning Belarus into Ukraine no.2 is simply good for business - Poland can always use more migrant workers. It's also good for NATO, since it puts its forces 50 km from Smolensk. And it's good for putting Russia into a worse negotiating position on every single issue there is. I think the differences between Germany+France and Poland+Latvia are mainly about the tactics to use. Moving too fast and too hard simply pushes Lukashenko into the arms of Moscow (though after Monday's meeting in Sochi it may be too late for a cautious approach, Luki clearly came there to capitulate at least on some important unification issues).
Rein them in from doing what?
So far Germany and France were much more cautious about pressuring Lukashenko, while Poland and Latvia (who run the show with Tikhanovskaya, Belsat, Nexta etc) wanted to move fast. It was most likely a difference in opinion on what is possible and probable - whether Lukashenko can be simply driven off like Yanukovich in 2014, or whether a more long-term pressure is needed. IMO Lukashenko isn't Yanukovich and cannot be driven off. Yanukovich was an oligarch whose main concern was his stashed wealth - which he kept in exchange for giving up power over Ukraine. Lukashenko's wealth is Belarus itself, so he won't just give up. And with Moscow's support he can rule for years still, so the task right now is to force Moscow to stop supporting Lukashenko.
 

IndyFront

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I don't see this being about grudges. Turning Belarus into Ukraine no.2 is simply good for business - Poland can always use more migrant workers. It's also good for NATO, since it puts its forces 50 km from Smolensk. And it's good for putting Russia into a worse negotiating position on every single issue there is. I think the differences between Germany+France and Poland+Latvia are mainly about the tactics to use. Moving too fast and too hard simply pushes Lukashenko into the arms of Moscow (though after Monday's meeting in Sochi it may be too late for a cautious approach, Luki clearly came there to capitulate at least on some important unification issues).

So far Germany and France were much more cautious about pressuring Lukashenko, while Poland and Latvia (who run the show with Tikhanovskaya, Belsat, Nexta etc) wanted to move fast. It was most likely a difference in opinion on what is possible and probable - whether Lukashenko can be simply driven off like Yanukovich in 2014, or whether a more long-term pressure is needed. IMO Lukashenko isn't Yanukovich and cannot be driven off. Yanukovich was an oligarch whose main concern was his stashed wealth - which he kept in exchange for giving up power over Ukraine. Lukashenko's wealth is Belarus itself, so he won't just give up. And with Moscow's support he can rule for years still, so the task right now is to force Moscow to stop supporting Lukashenko.
Pretty sure the EU was quite unanimous in their opposition to Lukashenko iirc, it is the Belarus-Russia-Serbia front that is having the infighting this time around. Either way back to the topic, I wish Navalny well and hope whatever conflict occurs in Russia between the establishment and opposition is a peaceful one.
 

Wakko

Well-known member
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