< /p> Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny in court in a May 24, 2022, photo.
Moscow/London – After a Western documentary about jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny won an Oscar, critics of the Kremlin were celebrated this week. However, his political movement is in chaos, and some Ukrainian politicians say he does not deserve the award, Reuters writes.
Navalny, the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is serving 11.5 years in prison in Russia. He found himself behind bars after a court found him guilty of fraud in two cases, which Navalny and West claimed were fabricated to silence him. In addition, his organization, which focuses on fighting corruption, has been banned as extremist.
His supporters refer to him as Russia's version of Nelson Mandela, he survived an assassination attempt and will one day be released from an unjust prison to lead Russia. Navalny, a lawyer, remains a staunch critic of the Kremlin and regularly issues statements from behind bars through his lawyers.
However, his Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), which currently operates outside Russia, has run into trouble after the boss staff, Leonid Volkov admitted that, without the knowledge of his colleagues, he lobbied the European Union for the lifting of sanctions against one of Russia's richest men, Mikhail Fridman. Volkov apologized for his actions, which he described as a “big political mistake”, and stated that he would take a break from the role of head of the fund.
However, some other opposition figures became angry, saying that FBK should be trying to hasten Putin's political end rather than helping wealthy businessmen. Navalny's ally and former deputy energy minister, Vladimir Milov, said some members of the opposition had been “super naive” in pushing for the lifting of sanctions against Fridman. He described him as the Russian “master in company raids”. “It causes colossal damage to the image of the Russian opposition. After this, it will be necessary to restore the reputation of the Russian opposition in the West,” he added.
The lobbying effort was reported in apparent revenge by Alexei Venediktov, a prominent journalist who for years gave space to the opposition at the Moscow radio station he ran while maintaining ties to the authorities. Navalny's team accused Venediktov of receiving millions of dollars to publish magazines from the Moscow city budget, which is controlled by a Putin ally. Venediktov admitted that he obtained the publishing contract, but denied wrongdoing or profiting from it. Last April, Moscow labeled him and Volkov as “foreign agents”.
Leonid Nevzlin, a tycoon and prominent critic of the Kremlin based in Israel, said on Twitter that the opposition needed to unite. “While Ukraine is fighting for its freedom, the Russian opposition has decided to open a second front… Unfortunately, not to fight against Putin, but to fight among themselves,” he complained. St. Petersburg opposition politician Xeniya Torstrjomova, who left Russia, said she also longed for unity. “But unfortunately, the exact opposite is currently happening,” she said in a telephone interview.
At the Oscars, attention was also focused on Navalny's stance on Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014. The oppositionist said at the time that he did not think Crimea was a sandwich that could be passed back and forth. For a long time, he also claimed that if he became president, he would organize an honest referendum in which the people of Crimea would say which country they want to belong to. But last month he changed tack, saying Russia must respect Ukraine's 1991 borders.
Some Ukrainians were shocked that a documentary about Navalny won the Oscar instead of a Ukrainian contender, a co-produced film called House of Chips, which tells the story of an orphanage destroyed by Russian forces. “Tonight proved once again that Russian propaganda works very well and can promote pseudo-heroes where there are no heroes,” said Azad Safarov on Facebook, who took part in the creation of the co-production.
Mayor of Lviv, Ukraine Andriy Sadovy with he recalled Navalny's comments about the Crimean sandwich with disgust. “Navalny is a sandwich wrapped in a snack box, which he carries around the world as an example that there is still an opposition in Russia,” wrote Sadovyj on Twitter, noting that it smacks of Russian propaganda, which even the Oscar statuette has now smelled.
< p>Navalny directly touched on the conflict in today's Twitter response to Oscar, highlighting those around the world who “find the strength to stand up to the monster of dictatorship and its constant companion – war.”
Russian opposition politician Nikita Yuferev, now living abroad, admitted the disruption in the opposition, but blamed it on twenty years of Kremlin repression. “She is headless, disoriented, but there are objective reasons for that,” Juferev said. Navalny's ally Milov declared that the opposition would persevere. “Problems and mistakes happen, but we managed to survive the terrible blows that Putin dealt us in recent years. We are not going to give up,” said Milov.