Russia’s most prominent anti-corruption activist seeks election in 2018
Challenging a vehement leader with an indisputable concentration of power and 17 years of leadership under his belt is no small task, but Alexei Navalny has confidently stepped up to the plate. Navalny, one of Russia’s most prominent anti-corruption activists, announced his intention to run for election in Russia in 2018 in a three-minute video released on December 13th.
No stranger to the election process, Navalny (who runs a controversial anti-corruption blog popular among the opposition), ran for Mayor in Moscow in 2013, accruing nearly 30 per cent of the votes. The electoral results were quickly followed by a challenging turn of events for Navalny, serving to prove that the path to power for opponents of the Kremlin is not clearly marked; Navalny only become eligible to run for office last month, when an embezzlement conviction was overturned and the Supreme Court declared a mistrial. Should he be convicted again in the retrial in March, his eligibility will be once again removed, and the former prison sentence could be reinstated.
Navalny has long been a pain in the Kremlin’s side – a vocal critic of Putin and the political elite, their luxurious lifestyles, and purported links to graft and extortion. Many question whether the decision to convict him was in fact based on political motives rather than a legal basis. Navalny is not the first, nor will he be the last to fall foul of the Kremlin; Economic Minister Alexei Ulyukayev was arrested last month on corruption-related charges. He remains under house arrest awaiting his trial in March, with many speculating that his indictment was linked to his willingness to relinquish state control of Rosneft, an oil company.
Suffice it to say, Navalny’s intended electoral bid has thrust his pending trial into the international limelight, subjecting the details to global public scrutiny. Challenging Putin and his ‘party of crooks and thieves’ (Navalny’s own words) will undoubtedly prove a herculean task. Putin, who is currently serving his third term as President, has yet to throw his own hat in the ring, but judging from his high approval ratings of late, a successive tenure would not be unlikely. Whether Navalny faces Putin or another member of the establishment, an uphill battle surely awaits.