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Navalny's Taunts Led to 'Speedy' Investigation

Published: April 15, 2013 (Issue # 1754)



  • Alexei Navalny
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Days before the much-anticipated trial of opposition leader Alexei Navalny is scheduled to begin, an Investigative Committee spokesman has suggested that Navalny's constant criticism of the government caused investigators to "accelerate" work on the case against him.

When someone "uses all his energy to bring attention to himself" and "provokes the government," his past attracts more attention, and the process of exposing him "accelerates," spokesman Vladimir Markin told Izvestia in a interview published on Friday that was remarkable for its open distain.

The government had previously denied any link between Navalny's politics and the criminal case, and Markin again insisted that the charges were not politically motivated, but rather "Navalny … banal," he said, correcting a dubious slip of the tongue.

At several points in the interview, Markin seemed to express outright contempt for the opposition leader, calling him a foreign puppet, accusing his projects of "parasitizing" government mechanisms, and saying his anti-corruption skills could come in handy in prison.

Navalny, 36, a lawyer who rose to prominence as an anti-corruption blogger, currently operates several Internet-based projects that investigate government spending, spread anti-government propaganda, and make it easier for tenants to report problems to utilities companies.

On Wednesday, he will go before a judge to face allegations that he led a criminal group that stole 16 million rubles ($516,000) worth of timber from a state-owned company in 2011-12, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

He has denied any wrongdoing, and on Friday, he joked that he would give 20 cubic meters of lumber to anybody who could find evidence for the accusation in the indictment.

Security has reportedly been beefed up at the courthouse in Kirov, about 800 kilometers east of Moscow, and city officials have sanctioned a small rally in support of Navalny to take place on Wednesday morning across from the building.

Arguably the opposition's most popular leader, Navalny has had several criminal investigations opened against him in recent months, a period that has also seen the government pass new restrictions on public demonstrations, defamatory speech, and non-governmental organizations.

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Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldn’t miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norway’s largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.