Russia’s Putin and Navalny collide; who will survive?

An article by my Hoover colleague Dr. Paul Gregory in The Hill

To understand the events of Russian dissident Aleksei Navalny’s near-fatal poisoning and his Jan. 17 return to Russia, you must know that there are two Navalnys: Navalny No. 1 is described by Kremlin-controlled media as a CIA agent, corrupt, a hater of Russia, a loud-mouthed liar; Navalny No. 2, according to his admirers, is a heroic fighter against the corruption of Russia’s ruling class, a proponent of democracy, the best hope for a civilized Russia.

If you ask an elderly Russian living on a state pension, he or she will identify Navalny as the first personification. If you ask a young Russian college graduate living in a city, he or she will favor the second version.

With a rapidly aging Russia, some two-thirds of Russians believe in Navalny No. 1. This goes a long way to explain why Russian dictator Vladimir Putin believes he can get away with poisoning Navalny and, now that that failed, jailing him for an extended period.

Let’s begin with Navalny’s dramatic return to Russia after five months of life-saving treatment and convalescence in Germany.

Read the full article here

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