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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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