Alexia Navalny, 37, is a leading challenger of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Navalny is seen by many as Russia’s most potent opposition leader and in a recent show of zero tolerance for defiance, Navalny was arrested and convicted, and given a sentence of 5 years imprisonment. On Thursday, Navalny was found guilty of embezzlement- a verdict that ignited impassioned protests throughout the country. He was later released on Friday, a day following the verdict.
Alexia Navalny’s release from police custody symbolizes the Russian authorities softening in the face of the Russian people’s passionate protests. Angry outcries were echoed throughout Russia and her largest cities. A petition was sent to the judge in Kirov, asking for the release of Alexia A. Navalny pending his appeal. The argument was made that the arrest prevented Navalny from participating in the Moscow mayoral election. This release enables Navalny to be out of prison for possibly a month or longer, thus dimming the fury of angry protests and allowing Navalny to run for mayor in September.
“The Party of Swindlers and Thieves” is the famous brand Mr. Navalny famously stamped President Vladimir V. Putin’s political party, United Russia. Mr. Navalny is not shy of drawing attention to himself and his campaign. His roots stem from his days spent blogging about anti-corruptions and leading of street protests. Now he is a populist candidate for the mayor of Moscow. Clearly, his actions have not been in vain as demonstrated by the Russian authorities who swooped in on him in what appears not to be a deterrent to this Russian Robin Hood.
Navalny was in light spirit as he commented about the bizarre turn of events with the decision to release him.
“I request that you verify the identity of Prosecutor Sergei Bogdanov,” he said. “It’s possible that it is not Prosecutor Bogdanov but his double. Because it was namely Prosecutor Bogdanov demanded that I be arrested in the courtroom.”
The motivation for the prosecutor’s decision to release Nalvalny has not been made clear by the authorities and it has caused opposition supporters to believe that the scales of justice are beginning to be balanced.
Dmitri Gudkov, political opposition leader, tweeted on Thursday night amongst a sea of swirling demonstrators near Manezh Square: “Tomorrow morning he may be released. Manezh, this is thanks to you!”
The debacle of arrests, convictions and quick releases has produced a spotlight shining on Russian authorities and the rising tide of opposition. Vadim Kobzev, Navalny’s lawyer called it “a clearly political decision” as he confirmed the release of the former street protest leader.
Early Friday morning saw as many as 200 people detained in Moscow.
A huge intersection had been built up by the protestors despite tight security on Thursday night. The crowds managed to block the entrance to the main channel leading to the Kremlin gates. Protestors estimated at least 5, 000 demonstrators were present, with the police estimating a watered down 2, 000.
Moscow has been enthralled by Mr. Navalny and his case. Nalvalny projects an honest, raw presence when communicating to a crowd and is a favorite in the hearts of many Russians bravely embracing that a change needs to take place in the Russian authority. The recent severe restrictions in an obvious angry attack by Putin, and then the release of Navalny, is an interesting development to say the least. The Russian President could be flexing his power in an attempt to instill fear and quell his challengers. With the speedy revocation of immediate imprisonment, the message could well be ringing clear that the average blogger can indeed make waves in a seemingly daunting situation.
“The main thing is to gain courage, forget about laziness and act.” – Alexia Navalny.