International Forecaster Weekly

Russia Bashing Redux

Russian justice convicts Alexei Navalny, the only opposition figure to emerge in the last five years, but who is he really?Is he a credible alternative to Putin, or a criminal? Is he more than a western stooge, a political opportunist? Will jailing Alexei Navalny bring about unforeseeen consequences?

Stephen Lendman | July 24, 2013

At issue is independent governance. Washington tolerates it nowhere. It wants all rivals eliminated. It wants unchallenged global dominance. 

It stops at nothing. It wages political, economic and hot wars achieve it. What America says goes. Washington rules apply. It demands all nations observe them. Outliers aren't tolerated. US aims are hard-wired.

It's back to the future. Putin's Russia is the new Evil Empire. He's public enemy number one. Beating up on him is relentless. He opposes America's imperial agenda. 

Political Washington rebukes him. It does so relentlessly. Media scoundrels regurgitate state propaganda. They do it disgracefully. They're at it again. More on that below.

Russian blogger/Putin critic Aleksey Navalny faced embezzlement charges. He's accused of stealing up 16 million rubles ($500,000) from state-owned Kirovles timber company.


On April 17, his trial began. Supporters called it politically motivated. Navalny's a self-serving opportunist. He's tied to Western monied interests. He's a US imperial tool. More on that below.

On July 18, a Kirov court convicted him. It sentenced him to five years in prison. He was fined about $15,000. Pending appeal, he and co-defendent Pyotr Ofitserov were conditionally freed. They agreed not to leave Moscow.

Navalny was a volunteer aide to Kirovsk Region's governor. Allegedly he was involved in a dubious Kirovles deal. Substantial losses followed. So did bankruptcy.

Wiretap and witness testimony linked him and Ofitserov to fraud and embezzlement. They rewrote Kivovles supply contracts. They arraigned them through shell company VLK. 

Perhaps if profits, not losses, resulted, charges wouldn't have followed. At the same time, evidence against both defendants is weak at best. Apparently enough to convict. Less than prosecutors wanted. 

Corruption in Russia's widespread. Huge amounts are involved. Navalny's smalltime. Megacrooks aren't charged. Why Navalny? Why target a minor political opportunist? Why give him added prominence?

At most, he enjoys 10% Muscovite support. He gets about 5% nationwide. He calls charges against him politically motivated - a "boring joke," he said.

"There is no motive. There is no gain. The stated damages are taken out of nowhere." 

"All most imported testimony against me has appeared to be false." 

"The witness who testified me himself appears to be a member of my criminal syndicate."

He claimed inconsistencies taint charges against him. Whether true or false remains for others to determine. He had his day in court. He'll get a second chance on appeal.

He's a Moscow mayoral candidate. He said if convicted, he'll stand down. Despite charges against him, he can run if he wishes.

September elections are scheduled. He's undecided whether or not to participate. He doesn't have enough support to win.

He's no democrat. He's no populist. He's ideologically driven. He's very much right wing. In 1999, he joined the Yabloko party. It supports free-wheeling capitalism. 

It supports neoliberal harshness. It benefits few at the expense of most others. In December 2011 elections, it fared poorly. It won few legislative seats. Since founded in 1993, it participated in six elections. Its best showing was 7.86% popular support. In 2011, it was 3.43%.

In 2005, Navalny participated in the Russian March. It's an annual neo-Nazi event. Yabloko expelled him. He's chauvinistic. He supports "Russia for the Russians." "Stop feeding the Caucasus."

In 2007, he began campaigning against corruption. Russian business broadsheet Nedomosti named him "Person of the Year 2009."

He attended Russia's Peoples' Friendship University, Finance University under the Government of the Russian Federation, and Yale.

He took part in Yale's "world fellows' program." It's for "emerging leaders." It aims to create a pro-Western global network.

He's a lawyer/smalltime politician/financial wheeler-dealer. He's a self-serving opportunist. He's a prominent Putin opponent.

He's a Russian Opposition Coordination Council member. He informally leads the unregistered People's Alliance party. He co-chairs RPR-PARNAS (Republican Party of Russia).

He's a Western media darling. Time magazine called him Russia's Erin Brockovich. He's no environmental activist/consumer advocate. 

In 2011, BBC said he's "arguably the only major opposition figure to emerge in Russia in the past five years."

In 2012, the Wall Street Journal called him "the man Vladimir Putin fears most." 

Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller said he's a "potential political leader." He's "young, thoughtful, politically astute, crowd-pleasing, and apparently unafraid."

Last year, Time named him one of the world's 100 most influential figures. Hyperbole is standard scoundrel media practice. So is managed news misinformation rubbish.

At most, Navalny's smalltime. In spring 2011, polls showed only 4% Russian population recognition. His LiveJournal blog features political invective. 

He claims Russia's ruling United Russia party provides political cover for corrupt officials. Whether true or false, hyperbole substitutes for corroborating evidence.

Former President Medvedev declared war on corruption. It's dangerous for ordinary people to do it. It's disingenuous when politically motivated.

Navalny's a political opportunist. He's self-serving. He's involved for his own benefit. He's a Western stooge. So are Boris Nemtzov, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Ryzhkov, and others like them. 

In 2009, Nemtzov and Kasparov met personally with Obama. They discussed anti-Putin tactics. They have other high-level US connections.

They all get State Department funding. Navalny admits it. It comes through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). It wages war on democracy worldwide. It advances America's interests. 

It ruthlessly targets Putin. It finances political initiatives opposing him. It meddles in Russia's presidential and parliamentary elections.

It funds so-called independent NGO election monitor Golos. It's pro-Western. It's well paid to claim fraud. Western media scoundrels regurgitate false charges.

NED, its National Democratic Institute (NDI) arm, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and similar organizations are destabilizing US foreign policy tools.

In dozens of countries worldwide, they support pro-Western and/or regime change initiatives. They're CIA alter egos. They covertly fund opposition groups. They're actively anti-Putin.

Claiming it's a "private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world" masks NED's true agenda. 

It actively participated in US orchestrated "color revolutions." It did so in Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere. It manipulated so-called "Arab Spring" rebellions. It helped create illusions of change.

It represents US imperial interests. Current board members include GlobalNet Partners John Bohn, notorious neocon Zalmay Khalizad, former right-wing congressman Vin Weber, former Bush II official/World Bank president Robert Zoellick, among others.

Earlier board members included Otto Reich, John Negroponte, Elliot Abrams, and General Wesley Clark.

Taking NED or other foreign funding violates Russian law. Baseless accusations are illegal. In America, prosecutions would result. 

Pro-Western groups operate freely in Russia. So do anti-government supporters. Navalny fell afoul of the law. What follows on appeal remains to be seen.

Whether or not guilty of fraud and corruption, he's no hero. US support isn't for democracy. 

Washington doesn't care if governments are democratic, despotic or anything in between. It's comfortable with secular and Islamofascist ones. They're OK if follow Washington rules.

Independent ones are targeted. Regime change is prioritized. Putin's Russia is deplored. He opposes US imperial rampaging. He's a thorn in America's side. He's independent. He doesn't roll over on demand.

According to Russia's Constitution, he's Russian Federation President, head of state, supreme commander-in-chief of defense as well as domestic and foreign policy.

He's outspoken against America encroaching to Russia's borders. US bases encircle the country. So-called missile defense/tracking radar systems are for offense.

US/Russian "reset" is more illusion than reality. It's been that way all along. Putin has vital Russian interests to protect. He won't sell out to Washington.

He's strengthening ties to China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and other fast-growing countries. They comprise a significant economic and political bloc.

American influence is waning. Russia's emerging. It's an important world player. It's rich in oil and gas. It's got growing clout. 

It'll take more than Navalny and other pro-Western stooges to derail its growing importance. It's advancing economically and politically. 

Putin's able to confront imperial America. He supports peace and stability. He's against America's imperial agenda.

At the same time, he wants good relations. He won't sacrifice independence getting them. He believes nation-state sovereignty is inviolable. 

With him involved, Russia's back proud and reassertive. He won't roll over for America. He's focused more on Eurasian ties. He and Obama clash on fundamental principles.

Given America's belligerence, they impact Russia's survival. Putin's foreign policy prioritizes peace, economic growth and cooperation. He's against confrontation. He's a thorn in America's side.

He's scorned for standing up to its bullying. He's taking heat for Navalny's conviction. White House spokesman Jay Carney called it "politically motivated." He said it's part of a "disturbing trend" in Russia.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said "(w)e are very disappointed by (his) conviction and sentencing."

US senators want him released. Senator Ben Cardin (D. MD) embarrassed himself. He did so shamelessly. He called Navalny "a man fighting to free the country he loves." (He) must be released free and unharmed."

Cardin, Harf, Carney et al ignore America's war on humanity, its advancing tyranny. They turn a blind eye to deplorable civil and human rights abuses. 

Countless thousands fill America's gulag. Indefinite detention uncharged/untried and torture reflect official policy. Don't expect them to explain.

Nor media scoundrels. They support the worst of Washington's crimes. They jumped on Navalny's conviction. They did so shamelessly. They didn't surprise.

New York Times editors headlined "Mr Putin Tries to Crush Another Rival." 

They called him a "strong man." They've called him worse. He "actually seems weak and insecure," they added.

Charging and convicting Navalny "were a transparent retaliation for Mr. Navalny's campaign against public corruption and Mr. Putin's United Russia political machine as a party of 'swindlers and thieves.' "

"The process was politically rigged."

"It has long been clear that Mr. Putin, who honed his bullying instincts as a KGB officer, cannot tolerate challenge or even political debate."

If Russians "listen to Navalny," they'll get "a more democratic and equitable country."

Wall Street Journal editors headlined "Free Alexei Navalny," saying: 

"(J)ailing your opponents can bring unforeseen consequences. Think Mandela" and others like him.

Navalny's no Mandela. Journal editors didn't explain. "Nearly all cases in Russia end in convictions," they said, "certainly all political cases."

Judges, prosecutors and police "behave like apparatchiks following orders."

"Western leaders can raise Mr. Navalny's case at every opportunity with the Kremlin leader. Russia doesn't belong in the G-8 as long Mr. Putin represses all opposition."

Journal editors urged Washington and Europe to intervene on his behalf. They did so disgracefully. 

They've been silent about Bradley Manning's witch-hunt trial. They want Edward Snowden's head. They support America's worst. They bash its best.

They endorse imperial lawlessness and neoliberal harshness. They're on the wrong side of history. They're not alone.

Russia's no model of governmental perfection. Compared to America, it almost looks that way. 

Media scoundrels point fingers the wrong way. They ignore the enormous harm Washington inflicts on humanity. 

It reflects rogue state lawlessness writ large. It's unprecedented in world history. It made today the most perilous time ever. Its war on humanity may destroy it. 

Compared to Obama, Putin almost looks saintly. Navalny's a side issue. He hardly matters in the greater scheme of things.

World peace, stability, and government of, by and for everyone equitably and just matter most. Don't expect scoundrel editors to explain.