Putin, Navalny, and the problem of “Then” in Post-Soviet Countries
Putin, Navalny e il problema del "Poi" nei Paesi Post-Sovietici

Putin, Navalny e il problema del "Poi" nei Paesi Post-Sovietici

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La Russia ha sempre mantenuto un rapporto speciale con il potere, visto come una sorta di padre collettivo, amato anche quando si è mostrato, come spesso accadeva, duro e crudele.

(Demetrio Volcic, giornalista, scrittore e politico italiano, 6 Dicembre 2015)

Putin, Navalny, and the problem of “Then” in Post-Soviet Countries, An Unpredictable Past
Protests against the arrest of Alexey Navalny, the sign reads “One for all, and all for one” Photograph by Yuri Kochetkov / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

Bentornati su Unpredictablepast.com,

è passato del tempo dall'ultimo articolo, ma, per questo particolare argomento, che, come potete immaginare, per me è molto importante, ho deciso di prendermi il tempo giusto per riflettere ed approfondire la questione: il tempo della notizia ha avuto il suo momento (anche se la situazione è in continuo cambiamento, ma ormai ha preso una sua direzione) ed è forse ora di passare alla storia, offrendo alcune riflessioni su quanto sta accadendo in Russia, ma non solo. Avevo già accennato ad alcune di queste riflessioni in relazione alla Bielorussia, ma in questo caso possiamo cogliere l'occasione per esplorarle meglio. Per svolgere questo lavoro nel miglior modo possibile, il saggio sarà diviso in (almeno) due parti.

Il tentato omicidio di Alexey Navalny

Penso che sia bene ricominciare da dove eravamo rimasti: per chi non l'avesse fatto, vi invito a leggere gli articoli sullo stato della Federazione Russa che ho scritto tempo fa. Tra questi eventi, una questione in particolare ha colpito i media occidentali (sommersi dall'aggiornamento quotidiano sulla situazione pandemica e, per un certo periodo, sul problematico passaggio di consegne tra l'amministrazione di Donald Trump e quella di Joe Biden). Sto ovviamente parlando dell'avvelenamento di Alexey Navalny e di tutto ciò che vi è connesso.

For those unfamiliar with him, Alexey Navalny is a Russian opposition leader, politician, lawyer, and anti-corruption activist. He came to international prominence by organizing demonstrations and running for office to advocate reforms against corruption in Russia, president Vladimir Putin, and Putin’s government. Navalny was a Russian Opposition Coordination Council member. He is the leader of the Russia of the Future party and the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) who have published investigations detailing alleged corruption by high-ranking Russian officials, leading to mass protests across the country. He has been arrested several times by Russian authorities, cases that are widely considered to be politically motivated and intended to bar him from running in future elections.

Quanto alla questione in sé, credo sia già stato detto e scritto abbastanza: l'ottimo lavoro investigativo svolto da un'indagine congiunta tra Bellingcat, The Insider e la Fondazione Anticorruzione (FBK), in cooperation with Der Spiegel and CNN, has discovered voluminous telecom and travel data that implicates Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in the poisoning of the prominent Russian opposition politician, and also that the operation that took place on August 2020 in the Siberian city of Tomsk appears to have happened after years of surveillance, which began in 2017 shortly after Navalny first announced his intention to run for president of Russia.

After that, under international pressure, Russian authorities allow Navalny to leave the country to be transported to the Charité Berlin hospital, where, having spent three weeks in an induced coma, he finally woke up in mid-September. Already on September 2nd, German authorities hanno rilasciato Navalny’s test results. A toxicological examination, carried out by the Bundeswehr specialized laboratory, ha scoperto prove inequivocabili della presenza nel suo corpo di tracce di un agente nervino chimico del gruppo Novichok. Le conclusioni degli specialisti tedeschi sono state successivamente confermate da laboratori certificati dell'Organizzazione per la proibizione delle armi chimiche (OPCW), nonché da esperti indipendenti in Svezia e Francia. Quasi immediatamente sono state fatte richieste di nuove sanzioni contro la Russia negli Stati Uniti e nell'UE, anche prima che le indagini sull'avvelenamento fossero iniziate.

Putin, Navalny, and the problem of “Then” in Post-Soviet Countries, An Unpredictable Past
Un uomo tiene un cartello con un'immagine di Navalny durante la manifestazione a sostegno del leader dell'opposizione russa, a San Pietroburgo. Alexander Galperin / Sputnik tramite AP

Needless to say, such an investigation never begun, nor in Germany or Russia, as the Investigative Committee proposed by Navalny’s colleagues to initiate it “on the basis of encroachment on the life of a public figure committed for the purpose of terminating such activity, or out of revenge for such activity and attempted murder” did not find sufficient grounds to satisfy this request, since Russian doctors had not found any poison in Navalny’s test results, there was no legal basis for an investigation.

Nonostante ciò, è ovvio che Vladimir Putin abbia dovuto rispondere in qualche modo alle accuse mosse contro le agenzie governative e la sua amministrazione. Lo ha fatto durante la conferenza stampa annuale di fine anno, con uno delle sue tipiche frasi ad effetto: “Chi ha bisogno di avvelenarlo”, he said “If they’d wanted to [avvelenarlo] allora probabilmente avrebbero finito il lavoro” and addressing Bellingcat as “la legalizzazione del materiale delle agenzie di intelligence americane“.

The modus operandi that contemplate the attempted murder of men linked to the Russian administration or hostile to it through the use of chemical agents is not new in the history of the country: the most recent case chronologically is that of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in 2018, the most famous one is certainly that of former FSB agent Alexandr Litvinienko, for whom a radioactive isotope, Polonium 210, was even used. Especially from the “Litvinienko Case” on, this mode of murder has entered mass culture to such an extent that the association is almost immediate to everyone.

A questo punto sorge una domanda, che può sembrare un po 'cinica, ma che va posta: perché tentare di uccidere qualcuno usando un metodo così riconoscibile e immediatamente associato all'FSB o ad altri apparati di sicurezza russi? Altre personalità much more “scomode” (pass me the term) of Navalny were shot and killed, later finding a convenient culprit, with never clear motives: Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, Natalia Estemirova in 2009 and above all Boris Nemtsov in 2015. Why not do the same? Why a nerve agent that says “Made in Russia” in capital letters? Moreover, it is natural to ask oneself something else, taking up the words of Putin himself: perché non finire il lavoro?

Over the years and my studies, I have learned several things about the way that Russian power has to move: the first is that it has a malleable propaganda and is able to adhere to and control almost any situation, the second is that it has been a logn time that Moscow have renounced any ambitions of enter the forum of the “western” countries, well aware that they are well-disposed to turn a blind eye to many things, as long as the raw materials flow into the veins of the Old Continent. When Anna Politkovskaya was killed, for example, there were no great outbursts, and the only European politician who went to her funeral was Marco Pannella, then head of the Italian Radical Party and at the time a member of the European Parliament: he said that she “she had opened our eyes “, while instead all of us had already turned the look away, and the Kremlin knows this very well.

So why this time doing such a seemingly clumsy and ineffective job. True, it could be argued that the idea was to send a “signal”, to make pro-Navalny activists feel a sense of looming threat. It should also not be forgotten how Russia lives with this type of “symbols”, which closely resemble the Soviet period and which each time try to portray the Russian Federation as an entity worthy of the USSR’s heritage, a “collective father,” loved even when he showed himself, as often happened, to be “tough and cruel “. But, then, why let Navalny go and give him the opportunity to get away with it (even if by a nose, as stated by Ilya Yashin), e poi tornare in Russia con una rinnovata aura di martirio? Soprattutto un avversario che, tra l'altro, sebbene popolare in Occidente, in Russia non gode di un seguito così ampio da essere effettivamente pericoloso.

Certainly, as we will see better in the next article, the regime immediately began a media offensive against Navalny and against “foreign interferece”, which also cost it the loss of a very important geopolitical partner, namely that “special relationship” that the Russian Federation had held up to that moment with Germany (remember that the issue of the produzione congiunta di vaccini anti-Covid è ancora in ballo). Come ho ripetutamente ribadito parlando del sistema di potere russo, non si muove mai in modo casuale, quindi perché questa volta sembra essersi volontariamente esposto in questo modo?

Putin, Navalny, and the problem of “Then” in Post-Soviet Countries, An Unpredictable Past
Vladimir Putin e Angela Merkel durante un incontro a Mosca. Foto di Repertorio

È possibile che ci troviamo di fronte a qualcosa di più oscuro e complesso?

As we have seen, the granite appearance that Russian power tends to show is only a facade, underneath which all kinds of economic and political interest groups move. Was this assassination attempt a settling of scores? And, if so, between whom? Between Vladimir Putin and those who would like to see a change at the top? Among the high ranks of the “silovki” fighting to curry favor with the President or other members of his circle?

After all, the only one who found himself in a “Catch 22” situation was the President himself, in the aforementioned conference at the end of the year he found himself having to choose between which truth to admit: that actually the order to kill his political opponent had started with him, or much worse, that his grip on the state apparatus is slowly crumbling, and this was only one of the effects, the most visible. Recently, messaggi have been circulating about a possible “illness” of Vladimir Putin (during the Soviet period, “illness” was another way of saying “inadequacy”, and generally heralded the fall of the current CPSU secretary) and about political movements that should lead to a change of leadership, while remaining within the framework of “Putinism”, whether this is true or not (the sources are not always what one might call “safe”), something is happening behind the curtains.

But we will discuss this better in the second part, in which we will consider the most current events, that is, starting from Alexey Navaly’s decision to return to Russia and everything that followed. For now I leave you to reflect on these questions that I hope have aroused your curiosity.

Grazie per essere arrivati fin qui e se volete condividere pensieri, opinioni o intuizioni, non esitare a contattarmi.

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