Russian Opposition Leader Arrested

Russian Opposition Leader Arrested

On the 26th of March 2017, Protesters gathered in the center of Moscow and all around the country calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev. The protest gathered around 8,000 people and over 500 were arrested.

On the 26th of March 2017, Protesters gathered in the center of Moscow and all around the country calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev. The protest gathered around 8,000 people and over 500 were arrested.

This included the main architect behind the protest and Leader of the Progressive Party, Alexei Navalny. Navalny was arrested and taken away as soon as he entered the protest and was not allowed to even interact with the crowd.

These are the biggest anti-government protests in the country since 2011. 

Who is Alexei Navalny?

Alexei Navalny is a politician, lawyer and social activist based in Moscow. He is one of the staunchest critics of Putin’s regime and has led multiple demonstrations against him.

He began as a blogger and amassed a following amongst the youth of the country, going on tirades against Putin, his cronies and the oil oligarchs who rule the country. He founded the Progressive Party in 2014 and plans to run against Putin.

However, he was tried and convicted for Timber smuggling and banned from participating in political elections for 10 years. He has branded this a move rife that is politically motivated and said he will contest elections anyway.

Pro-Putin campaigners believe him to be an ultra-nationalist and some question his allegiances to due to prolonged stay in the USA while studying at Yale.

Why go after Medvedev and not Putin?

Navalny uses social media to attract a young following and they organize themselves around his cries against Putin. But Putin is untouchable in Russia today, he is protected by the parliament, police and his group of oligarchs who support him.

Navalny’s strategy could have been to go for the attainable target in the form of Medvedev. He proclaimed him to be a corrupt politician working arm and arm to drain money from the country.

This struck a nerve with the younger generation and could have been his overall strategy and on the surface, it seemed to have worked. He was arrested but only sentenced to 15 days. The youth have him trending on the Russian social media site ‘VK’ and there are talks of more protests over the next few weeks; using Medvedev as the scapegoat for the anger the youth feel against corrupt individuals who have a stronghold on their system.

While Putin’s popularity remains high, almost three years of economic decline have plunged millions into poverty and the Kremlin is sensitive to allegations of high-level corruption. As many as 41 percent of Russians are struggling to feed themselves, per a recent poll from the Moscow Higher School of Economics.

Assessment

 

The cry of Anti-corruption is getting louder across Russia, with Putin seemingly not having the undivided support he once did. With the Russian economy being driven mainly driven by Oil and Gas, can Putin remain dominant even if his main assets will fluctuate in the future? With OPEC cutting production and the world moving towards renewables, will a shaky corrupt government be able to handle possible economic turmoil? With the examples of Chavez in Venezuela looming of the imperious figure of Putin, Protests might become more frequent in the future.

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