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  Opinion   Edit  18 Feb 2024  AA Edit | Navalny a heroic figure of hope

AA Edit | Navalny a heroic figure of hope

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Feb 18, 2024, 11:48 pm IST
Updated : Feb 18, 2024, 11:48 pm IST

World mourns Alexei Navalny's death, questions his return to Russia; Wife Yulia to lead dissident movement from abroad against Putin

People attend a protest march near the Russian emabssy in Berlin, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, to comemorate Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Navalny, who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests as President Vladimir Putin's fiercest foe, died Friday, aged 47, in the Arctic penal colony where he was serving a 19-year sentence, Russia's prison agency said. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
 People attend a protest march near the Russian emabssy in Berlin, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, to comemorate Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Navalny, who crusaded against official corruption and staged massive anti-Kremlin protests as President Vladimir Putin's fiercest foe, died Friday, aged 47, in the Arctic penal colony where he was serving a 19-year sentence, Russia's prison agency said. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

The world reacted with a great deal of emotion and grief to the death of Alexei Navalny (47), the Russian dissident who languished in jail for a couple of years before being sent to a penal colony in the Arctic to make his sentencing even more stringent.

To refer to him as Russia’s Opposition leader might be a misnomer as there is no such thing as an “Opposition Leader” in the monochromatic system of governance in which the State is everything and the authoritarian at the helm is a virtual dictator who rules supreme.

The world that grieves for such a brave man is also wondering why he went back to Russia — his wife and two children stayed in exile — after he had been poisoned with a nerve agent by shadowy figures of the Russian state in Germany. Having been rescued by doctors, he was going back to certain death when he chose to go home in January 2021.

“I don’t want to give up my country or my beliefs,” Navalny had said in response to a question that his Russian guards used to ask him often. He stood up for his beliefs, but in a tragic life of imprisonment in a system which gave him no chance to savour triumph like Nelson Mandela did after his 27-year incarceration on Robben Island in South Africa where he fought the despicable apartheid system.

In the modern age, far removed from where Russia was at the time of the Revolution, Navalny did not return to Russia like Vladimir Lenin did to a hero’s welcome when he brought the Bolsheviks to power and then went on to create and rule over the Soviet Union.

Today’s Russia is in the absolute grip of Vladimir V. Putin, who will this week be marking the second anniversary of his invasion of Ukraine, staying on his chosen path of a historic correction and the rest of the world can do nothing about it.

In his years as a dissident fighting the Kremlin from prison, Navalny, a nationalist to begin with, was a figure of hope and of change, but one against whom the odds were stacked. As those who wished to hold a memorial for him were being detained all over Russia with a threat of at least a year in jail, his wife, Yulia Navalnya, is expected to lead the dissident movement, but from abroad. Such is the power of Putin’s Russia.

Tags: aa edit, alexei navalny, president vladimir putin