Russian Protests; the End of Putin?

By Shane Lewis (Indian School Al Ghubra)
Published on March 13th, 2021

‘Everyone says corruption is everywhere, but for me it seems strange to say that and then not try to put the people guilty of that corruption away’


Vladimir Putin , the incumbent president of Russia widely regarded as the worlds most powerful man, is now facing a revolution in all 11 time zones of Russia , sparked by his fiercest critic Alexei Navalny, a strong and popular social media icon and member of the political party Russia to the future . With each passing day Putin's grip on power seems to be waning and he has resorted to brute force to restore his control further cementing his image as a tyrant . This article will explore the events leading to the protest and the current situation on the ground .

On august 20th 2020 , Alexi Navalny was poisoned with the infamous nerve agent ‘Novichok’ previously used in British soil against Russian double agent Sergei Skripal on March 4th , 2018 in Salisbury along with his daughter Yulia Skripal. Fearing further attacks , Alexei Navalny’s wife Mrs Yulia Navalny appealed to the kremlin to grant permission to seek medical attention in Berlin . During his time in Germany Navalny was unable to fulfill the obligations of his parole from previous fraud allegations; the Russian police used this as a precursor for his arrest immediately after his arrival in Moscow on January 17th , 2021. Which culminated in a Moscow court sentencing him for 3 and half years imprisonment.

Navalny was widely regarded as Putin's fiercest critic accusing the president and the government of widespread corruption and voter fraud through a string of videos and articles mercilessly demeaning the president and his aides even using satirical caricatures depicting Putin as King Louis XVII of France. His arrest sparked widespread condemnation from the international community. The united states lambasted the Russian government for curbing free speech and Justin Trudeau of Canada urged the Russian government to respect the democratic rights of the people. In response, diplomats from Germany, Sweden and Poland were expelled from Russia, prompting further criticism.

Following his arrest Navalny’s team released a two hour long documentary, intricately detailing Vladimir Putin's 1 billion dollar mansion off the coast of the black sea, presenting the intricate corruption in the Russian government and bureaucracy. The video widely known as ‘Putin’s Palace’ has gained millions of views on YouTube and attracted the attention of international media outlets. Furthermore, Navalny released a video while in detention calling for widespread protests . A population exhausted of corruption and repression took to streets braving the infamous Russian winter . The Russian youth have resorted to social media platforms to encourage and coordinate protests against Putin. Many have even prophesied the end of Putin and Navalny as the future Russian president .

In response to the protests Russian authorities have begun a widespread and controversial crackdown on dissidents culminating in the arrest of nearly 3400 protesters including Navalny’s relatives, famously Mrs Yulia Navalny who was later released. Russian police have also been accused of police brutality and several videos have surfaced of Russian police arresting protesters en masse and even barging into homes allegedly without warrants. Navalny has also proved to be a strong rallying figure for the opposition parties, previously handicapped and powerless due to merciless political crackdowns by Putin , by frequent raids into opposition headquaters and preventing the registration of several parties . Posing a serious challenge for the ruling party in the upcoming parliamentary elections later this year. Navalny’s tactful political maneuvers and his declaration of his unwillingness to commit suicide has left the Putin adminstration in a precarious situation.

Although President Putin's popularity has slumped among the Russian people he still retains power and favor amongst the oligarchy , state apparatus and military making an overthrow of the status quo all the more arduous . After a 20 year long rule Putin might finally face the greatest test of his

power and influence : Alexei Navalny .

This article is an external submission.

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