Navalny’s Promises To Put Putin In Jail

In a recent interview with the opposition Dozhd TV channel – which is, incidentally, available for public viewing in Russia as part of the NTV Plus satellite TV package – for the first time openly declared he wants to be President. He also speculated about the motivations behind the Kirovles fraud case being brought against him. (He expects to get a suspended jail sentence that will disbar him from electoral politics).

However, I think other parts of the interview were at least equally interesting and telling about what sort of politician Navalny would be. First, he unequivocally said that he would send Putin and his friends to jail. It is rather ironic that the self-appointed leader of the extra-parliamentary Russian opposition doesn’t bother, unlike Putin, to even pay lip service to the rule of law and judicial impartiality that he supposedly espouses. Second, his tendency to intemperately react to critics – even those who support him – is, once again, on full and inglorious display.

Below is a translation from the relevant part of the interview.

Host: Many people interpreted you as saying, I paraphrase, “I am Alexey Navalny and I will put you in prison, once I become President.”

Navalny: I don’t know about a President Navalny, but one day there will come to power those who will put him in prison. It’s a general feeling, I or we altogether, in another regime we would put him…

Host: [interrupting] [unclear] is it we or I?…

Navalny: Well, I, because I feel myself as part of this process, and I will do everything possible to make sure that he, and Putin, and Timchenko, and the entire list go to prison. To me these are all chains in this odious, kleptocratic regime, from the policeman who breaks your arm to Timchenko who steals oil, it’s all related…

Host: [interrupting] Do you want to become President?

Navalny: I do want to become President. I want to change life in this country, I want to change the system of administration, I want to make it so that the 140 million people of in this country – who are surrounded by oil and gas that flows out of the ground – would no longer have to live in destitution and hopeless squalor, but lived normally, like in any European country. We aren’t any worse than Estonians!

Host: Do you have a clear, well-planned program? Because as we know, and I think we raised the issue a year ago with you, you said that one shouldn’t lie and steal, and we got questions from many people like this on air: “To not steal and lie is all well and good, but what can we concretely do about it?”

Navalny: These “many people” are all idiots. We don’t need to do anything other not lie and not steal.

Host: So everyone will cease to not lie… will cease lying and will cease stealing…

Navalny: [interrupting] It’s the principles that are important.

Host: … and the Sun will start shining?

Navalny: If the top echelons of government will no longer lie and steal, but will do what is expected of it, and will at the least start to realize those nice programs of Putin such as Strategy 2020… All the reforms we need have already been compiled, down to roadmap detail. But none of them are being fulfilled.

Host: [interrupting] [unclear] … So the plans suit you. At least as they are on paper.

Navalny: No. They don’t exist. The plan for Russia’s development, and reforms, has been reworked multiple times, and overall everybody pretty much understands and agrees… We have this strange situation where we have a consensus between Left and Right as relates to the reforms we have to carry out, but they aren’t getting carried out, because the essence of the current regime is corruption. Everybody more or less understands how to combat this corruption, and we bring very concrete and constructive proposals on how to combat corruption to Medvedev’s anti-corruption conferences…

Host: For example Rospil.

Navalny: Yes Rospil, and our Anti-Corruption Fund, and many other suggestions, and many people there agree with those suggestions, but nothing happens further.


  1. You don’t think he stands a chance at becoming president, do you? I really, really hope not.

  2. Ildar Adi says:

    How many Russians knew Putin back in 1998, a year before his presidency, and what was his approval rating? Not that I wish Navalny would become the president. I’d love to see Zhirinovsky or Zyuganov, they would provide even more comedy and magic than Putin.

    • The correct comparison to Putin in 1998 would be Navalny in 2008, not Navalny today, who has already long been in the limelight.

    • Zhirinovsky or Zyuganov? Are you crazy??? Those are two of the worst politicians in Russia (and that’s really saying something, because there are a lot of bad politicians there).

      • Ildar is something of a troll. Little of what he says can be taken seriously.

      • Ildar Adi says:

        If you were to believe that Russia has any residues of democracy left, then you would have to conclude that Zhirinovsky and Zyuganov are the most serious challengers for Putin’s reign. They are the leaders of the biggest opposition parties, for a second decade and n:th elections running.

        In the West, from where Russia sometimes desperately seeks acceptance, Putin is loathed and ridiculed. Zhirinovsky and Zyuganov would be ridiculed and loathed, so I think that could be called progress.

        I don’t think it matters very much who is the president of Russia. I’m not even sure that moving from a fake head heavy presidential democracy to a genuine federal parliamentary democracy would solve Russia’s ills. To become a normal, modern country Russia needs a complete paradigm shift.

        • Ildar, you know, all russophobes that venture to this (and other) Russia bolgs are always about the same thing. Soon you will say Russia should apologise to everyone everywhere for existing, and how this will be a good first step on the road to “a complete paradigm shift”…

          • Ildar Adi says:

            You and anyone else who feels involved should not take it as an offence but as a challenge. Russians are not worse than Estonians, like Navalny said…

            • Uh, AM didn’t say it was an offense, simply a bore. You think you are being provocative and offering a challenge, but everyone here has heard it all a million times. You are simply spouting conventional wisdom while trying to pass it off as original thought. Oh, and the day Russia becomes a “normal” country is the day I pack my bags and leave. Crazy, I know, but some of us like it the way it is.

              • Ildar Adi says:

                I know the idea of a paradigm shift is an old one and not mine originally, but that does not make it invalid, does it? Of course, if there is no desire to become a normal country and most of Russians like the way their country is run, then, by all means, please continue…

            • Such complete paradigm shift is simply impossible – that’s why I find advocating it silly (I don’t think even a complete shock like world war could do this to a country). Russia will not be Estonia unless you reduce Russia to the size of Estonia and it’s population to few millions. Navalny once said something else, that with a lot of work Russia could be an “irrational, metaphysical Canada” – sounds more like it 🙂

            • Except, of course, Canada is dominated by the USA. Hence Russia can never be such a “nice, harmless” country.

  3. In fact the interview shows why Navalny will not become President. On the issues that concern Russians: rising prices, working conditions, inequality, housing, health, education, jobs etc he has nothing to say at all. His entire programme basically boils down to jailing Putin and a few other people he calls kleptocrats. I am not going to say anything more about the recklessly authoritarian and demagogic nature of this proposal (if it can be seriously called a proposal) because Anatoly has said it already.

  4. Reminds me of what Ivan Krastev said about Poland’s Kaczynski: “In fact, Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s economic policy is notable by its absence: what he has instead is an anti-corruption policy. He and his PiS seem to believe that the “reform” Poland needs amounts to arresting some of the rich and the powerful (preferably in front of the TV cameras). This government-by-spectacle reveals the source of the PiS’s “success”: capturing the imagination of the losers of the transition without threatening the interests of the new middle class”
    But seeing current stagnation in the Kremlin, Kaczynski-style Navalny would make a welcome change…