Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison in a case widely seen as an attempt to neutralise President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic.
Alexei Navalny, a Russian citizen, was accused of embezzling $500,000 from two firms between 2008-2012 for which he was given a suspended sentence by the judge, i.e., a criminal sentence that is not enforced unless the defendant fails to meet conditions imposed by the judge, in 2014. On Jan 17, Navalny was detained in Moscow after returning from Germany on grounds of violating the conditions of the suspended sentence that he received in 2014, and missing scheduled parole several times with Russia's prison service after which, on Jan 18, he was remanded for 30 days and eventually on Feb 02 his suspended sentence was converted into a jail term by the Moscow's City Court which heard this matter on grounds of his detention and violations of conditions for his suspended sentence. The legal representative of Navalny said, as per reports, that his client (Navalny) missed the scheduled parole because he was in Berlin under medical care following the Aug 20, 2020 poisoning attempt on his life. Navalny has accused Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, of attempting to poison him through indirect involvements. In an investigation story by CNN, it was found that the attempt on Navalny's life was carried out by FSB, a spy agency of Russia working under Vladimir Putin. "However much he (Vladimir Putin) pretends to be a great geopolitician, he'll go into history as a poisoner", said Alexei Navalny in his closing statement given to the Moscow City Court on Feb 02. However, Navalny's lawyer said they would appeal against the ruling. It's funny that 'appeals' are still functioning under Putin's rule.
Navalny was a known critic of Vladimir Putin and his way of governance, because of which it is accused that the action against him was politically motivated and unreasonable. Putin's continuous strive to make him almighty in Russian history is no secret. Since the fall of the Soviet Era in 1991, the political structure and power centres in Russia have always been controlled by few in power. In two decades since rising to the top of the Kremlin, official residence of the President, Vladimir Putin has made the politics of Russia tremendously centric, but with strengthening Russia's dominance in the world. Putin's misadventure to extend his presidency till 2036 through a constitutional amendment in 2020 is very vocal about his intentions to rule and keep the hegemony of power static. The amendments have also enhanced the powers of the State Council, an advisory body until now, which Putin heads. Overall, the changes allowed him to tighten his grip over Russia for sure like once Tsar's did. It is a common understanding that people in power for long, takes that power for granted and any threat to that status will bring consequences, whether legitimate or otherwise is a discourse discussed a lot in the political and social domain. To shed some light on illegitimate means, a law was adopted in October 2018 banning organizations designated as “foreign agents” from providing "anti-corruption" evaluations of legal acts was seen as a major jolt in a liberal functioning of any organization in a nation-state. Since December 2018, the Justice Ministry of Russia added 12 organizations to its list of “foreign agents,” including three human rights organizations and a group working on HIV/AIDS prevention. Also, an emerging trend in Russia is restricting artistic freedom by cancelling numerous rap and pop music performances under the pretext of protecting children from the promotion of drugs, suicide, and homosexuality. Alexei Navalny's case is a rule and not the exception in Russia today where the human rights situation continues to deteriorate. From repressive laws like isolating Russian segment of the Internet, election interference, restricting civic activism to illegal detentions and torturing prisoners, can only be compared to the reign of Joseph Stalin. Russia is witnessing massive outrage against Vladimir Putin's government's recent actions against civil society and student protests. It's only in future to unveil the political future of Russian and it's future, but the world knows that Russia matters in a big way and their wellbeing and stable society is what keeping the geopolitics of entire world, especially Asia, non-hostile.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ― Buckminster Fuller