1. Russia

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Navalny Changing Rules of the Game in Moscow by Challenging the Kremlin’s, Skobov Says

Listen to this article

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 3 – By returning to Russia after being poisoned, by organizing protests while under arrest, and now by using his trial to denounce Vladimir Putin’s rule, Aleksey Navalny has changed the rules of the game in Moscow in ways that put the Kremlin leader at an increasing disadvantage, Aleksandr Skobov says.

            The now-imprisoned opposition leader “began his activity by violating the main, underlying rule” of the Putin system, that no one can take part in politics without the agreement of the Kremlin, the commentator says.  Navalny burst into politics, “without asking the Kremlin and it hasn’t been able to do anything about that” (

            Skobov notes that Navalny is often criticized for focusing on corruption. But such people fail to see that he is leading people to recognize that those who have been stealing their money are also stealing power and the right of people to express their opinion. “They are stealing our country from us, our future, and our dignity.”

            In doing so, the commentator suggests, “Navalny has made dignity again something in demand” at a time when Putinism has been promoting individual pragmatism and conformism above all else.” In this way, he has changed Russians by changing the rules of the game they assume they must operate within.

            In his address to the court, “Navalny not only directly called the usurper a murderer and a non-entity” but also said that no one should subordinate themselves to the dictator. And they should do so without fearing the consequences. “These tens of thousands of people overwhelmingly never were Putin supporters,” Skobov says; “but now they serve as an example to millions” who until recently were.

            Those political parties like Yabloko that insist that Russians play in the political system by “observing Putin’s rules of the game” are going to be marginalized as a result because thanks to Navalny, Russians can see that there is no future in playing a game in which the house has fixed the rules and thus fixed the game.

            According to Skobov, “the Putin fascist regime ineluctably is moving toward a situation in which the only legal form of participation in politics is to serve as a fig leaf for the dictatorship.” Navalny is not only highlighting this reality but calling on Russians to challenge and destroy it.

            “He is calling on people not to be silent” and not to be afraid of the consequences of speaking out. Such actions inevitably take them out of what Putin calls the “’legal’” sphere but is the only way forward to have a genuine rule of law and not the simulacrum which is all the Kremlin now offers.


Window on Eurasia — New Series