A letter to RT’s (Russia Today) Ekaterina Karaseva following a request from her on my opinion of the Alexei Navalny case



Dear Mrs. Ekaterina,


In response to your question whether or not I am a journalist and how I relate to the Navalny case, here my answer. I am not a journalist but have studied political science in the USA and have attended classes in political science at the Free University in Berlin, German where I am currently living.


Here my response to the Navalny case: No doubt Alexei Navalny with his anti corruption campaign has struck a nerve in Russian society. And the question as to whether or not he himself was guilty of corruption should be left to an independent judiciary. The problem is everyone who is against Putin and against the present Russian administration, in and outside of Russia, takes the opinion that the judiciary in Russia in not independent. And outside of Russia it is simply taken for granted that Russia under Putin has become something akin to a “failed state”, and that corruption and lawlessness go hand in hand with the “perfect dictatorship” (lupenreine Diktatur - Spiegel Online along with most of the German media) that Putin has established.


The failure of the Western press to mention the reactionary rightwing tendencies of Alexei Navalny, his regular participation in the annual nationalist mass demonstration “Russian March” (Русский марш) under the motto, “Russia for the Russians”, or his video concerning the militants from the Caucasus “The People for the Legalization of Weapons” НАРОД за легализацию оружия http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVNJiO10SWw where he compares the militants from the Caucasus with cockroaches, insisting that unlike cockroaches that can be killed with a slipper or a flyswatter the Caucasian militants can only be killed with a pistol, shows the West’s failure to present a critical view of this supposed “victim of Russian oppression”.


Lilia Shevtsova, the Russian born and Russian educated “Kremlinologist” at the US based Carnegie Center in Moscow told the BBC that "Navalny is becoming a martyr, a new Russian Mandela". Can there be any greater distortion of reality than this lockstep between a member of the Russian opposition (which she certainly is) and this mouthpiece for US foreign policy in Russia?


Dr. Gesine Dornblüth, the correspondent for Deutschlandradio in Moscow, who left out any critical reference to Alexei Navaly’s rightwing reactionary policy in her radio broadcast, which initiated my complaint to her and your subsequent inquiry to my attitude towards the Navalny case, insisted in her response to me, that her intent was not to leave out Alexei Navaly’s rightwing tendencies, but rather that the matter at hand was simply his right to a fair trial in Russia. She further insisted that earlier in Germany she was one of the first to reveal Alexei’s racist video, his participation in the reactionary “Russian Marches” and to warn of this demagogue. This may very well be so. And in the link to an earlier December 31, 2011 piece from her “Putin und die erwachende Opposition” (Putin and the awaking opposition) she indeed backs up her point. http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/themenderwoche/1641251/.


She even concludes with the statement: “… Es steht zu befürchten: Wenn dieser Rassist Macht bekommt, dann werden die Opfer keineswegs nur die "Gauner und Diebe" in den Amts- und Parteistuben sein, sondern es wird auch Andersdenkende und anders Aussehende treffen.”  (It is to be feared that should this racist come to power, then the victims will not only be the "crooks and thieves", in the offices and party rooms, [Meant here are those in power in Moscow now, a slogan that Dr. Dornblüth simply takes over from Alexei Navalny.] but also the dissenters and those who just look differently.)


However, in her latest broadcast from June 18, 2013 in Deutschlandradio „Auf dem Weg in alte Sowjetzeiten - Russische Justiz verfolgt diejenigen, die Korruption öffentlich machen“ http://www.dradio.de/dkultur/sendungen/kommentar/2183143/ (On the way to old Soviet times - Russian justice pursues those, who publicize corruption), not only does she fail to mention Aleksei Nawalyn’s dark side but comes out sounding pretty mush like the BBC’s reference to Dr. Shevtsova’s quote, titled in the BBC’s article as “Alexei Navalny jailed: Russia's Mandela moment?” It is simply seen as a given by her that Navalny is being persecuted for his anti corruption stance and for his opposition to President Putin. Here she is in total lockstep with most of the Western press. “Der Prozess gegen Aleksej Nawalynj war ein politischer Prozess. Daran besteht kein Zweifel.“ (The court’s decision against Alexei Navalny was a political one, of that, there can be no doubt.)


And: “Denn politische Auseinandersetzung findet in Russland längst nicht mehr in Parlamenten statt, sondern in Gerichten.“ (Since political disputes, for a long time already, do not take place in Russia’s parliaments, but in the courts.)


And: „Um Aleksej Navalnyj hatten sich vor allem gebildete und wohlhabende junge Menschen und Geschäftsleute versammelt. Sie haben daran geglaubt, das Regime mit friedlichen Methoden und innerhalb des Rechtsstaates verändern zu können. Sie wurden heute Lügen gestraft.” (Above all, around Aleksej Navalnyj the educated and well-to-do young people and businessmen had gathered. [No mention of his racist buddies here.] They believed they could change the regime with peaceful methods and within the constitutional state. Today they were punished with lies.)


The logic behind her thinking (and that of the West generally) seems to be quite simple. Yes, Aleksej Navalny is a racist demagogue [For those who know about it, since it is hardly ever mentioned in the Western press], but he is by far better than that which is in power in Russia today under Putin and his partly - the "crooks and thieves"! And even though Dr. Dornblüth earlier had written that it is to be feared that should this racist come to power, then the victims will not only be the "crooks and thieves" in the offices and the party rooms, but also the dissenters and those who just look differently.


Regardless, of the possible merits or demerits of the opposition’s case in Russia (no judiciary is 100% free from political influence) what disturbs me most is the almost unanimous across the board condemnation of Russia from the outside. The mere possibility that Russia can have an independent judiciary is simply denied. Or what a guest on your program called the accusation of “telephone justice”. Putin picks up the phone and simply says what the verdict has got to be.


Right after Navalny had been freed from jail, pending an appeal, French television (France 24) speculated that perhaps there was a split inside the Russian administration. The idea that there could be such a thing as an independent judiciary in Russia just runs counter to their anti-Russian indoctrination. The Western media (in lockstep with the anti-Putin opposition in Russia) did the same thing during the Pussy Riot case.


From where stems this knee-jerk response to condemn Russia, for just about everything it does, domestically or in terms of foreign policy? No doubt this is partly a holdover from the Cold War, but more importantly it is Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War. Russia refused (particularly under Putin) to go in line with the West’s geopolitical policies.


Stephen Cohen, a Professor of Russian history whom you’ve had on your program put it best when he said. “Whatever is in the American interest, Russia should help promote. So, if America decides to expand NATO to Russia’s borders, Russia should accept this as a very good idea to its own security. If America decides to build missile installations in Europe or on ships that threaten Russia’s nuclear security, Russia should understand that that’s really against North Korea or Iran, and it doesn’t affect Russia. If the US believes that the overthrow of Assad in Syria will bring peace to the Middle East, Russia should agree.” Professor Cohen also added, “Putin pursues in a world which I would call not an ANTI-American foreign policy, but an UN-American foreign policy or a NON-American foreign policy.” I would add an INDEPENDENT foreign policy.


Western Europe mirrors America’s attitude towards Russia. The fact that Evo Morales’s plane was forced to land in Austria, on the suspicion that Edward Snowden might have been on it, once again shows how INDEPENDENT Western Europe is of Washington’s policy wishes, i.e. its attitude towards Russia.


In your interview with Professor Cohen he also stated that the USA came close to war with Russia in 2008 over the conflict in Georgia. “Georgia began the war, no doubt about that. Russia reacted by moving into South Ossetia. It began the fight with the Georgian army which was, in effect, an American proxy army. We created that army. We armed it. We trained it. There were American military advisors somewhere in the Georgia, traveling with the Georgian troops. There was a discussion at the White House, led by Dick Cheney, that the US should bomb the Russian army in South Ossetia.”


And I would add that had Russia not possessed nuclear weapons she would have had to fight a war that she would have certainly lost, and for that matter, she would have long ago shared the same fate of the former Yugoslavia, or more recently that of Libya. This is something that the “opposition” in Russia does not realize. It is Putin’s wisdom, however, to know this deep down in his gut.  


Or, as Professor Cohens sarcastically stated, “If America decides to build missile installations in Europe or on ships that threaten Russia’s nuclear security, Russia should understand that that’s really against North Korea or Iran, and it doesn’t affect Russia.” Putin, rightfully, begs to differ!


There is also a fundamental economic reason for the demonization of Putin’s Russia.


In an article in the German progressive Newspaper Junge Welt” Rainer Rupp writes that the campaign against Russia began with the arrest of Chodorkovski. “The vehemence of the vicious propaganda campaign against Putin reflects the anger of the western imperialists that he thwarted their plans to acquire Russian raw materials cheaply. Ever since Putin prevented the fraudster and Yukos boss Michail Chodorkovski from selling the oilfields grabbed by the overnight billionaire (roughly one half of the Russian oil reserves) to the west in a gigantic deal, the fronts have been clear. Following the wild privatisation orgies under US fan Boris Yeltsin, Putin has since taking power gradually returned the Russian resources to state control. The western imperialists are furious at this suppression of capitalist ‘human rights’, and so they take every opportunity to sell Chodorkovski and now Litvinenko to the western public as martyrs and victims of ‘Putin the Terrible’. ” (Junge Welt, December 20, 2006) Taken from http://www.currentconcerns.ch/index.php?id=362


Alexei Navalny stands in a long tradition with anyone opposing Putin and the party in power in Russia as being seen as martyrs for human rights, Mandela like people – this they are not!


Thank you for your inquiry. It was a pleasure responding to your questions.


Alant Jost


Berlin, Germany

July 21, 2013