Who Is Aleksey Navalny?

Julia Ioffe’s profile is well worth a read:

“He’s a natural-born politician,” Masha Lipman, a prominent Russian political analyst, told me at the time. “If Russia were a country with an open-field political competition, he’d be assured of a brilliant political career. He might even become a Presidential candidate.”

But this wasn’t Navalny’s main asset. Unlike every other person in opposition politics during the Putin era, Navalny understood that Putin was not Russia’s main problem. Rather, the problem was the post-Soviet culture of greed, fear and cynicism that Putin encouraged and exploited. Navalny carefully distanced himself from the shrill, old-guard Western-friendly liberals—“hellish, insane, crazy mass of the leftovers and bread crusts of the democracy movement of the eighties,” he called them—who simply participated in Putin’s cult of personality in reverse, for it is also cultish to believe that one man is responsible for all the evil in your country.

Masha Lipman reviews Navalny’s accomplishments:

Navalny had managed to do what nobody else had: he beat the system Putin had put in place to effectively bar any unwanted figure, group, or party from entering the political realm. He built a following in a country where mass-media outlets are under tight government control. He took on Russia’s high-ranking officials and large companies. He encouraged others to act. Don’t just rage and grumble over the government lawlessness and corruption, he would say; do what I’m doing—pore over the official postings on government procurement, and you’ll find plentiful evidence of corruption. He thus gave those who joined his effort a sense of “We can get them”—rare in a country where “Nothing depends on us” is the pervasive perception.