Rodents, Roaches, And Russia For The Russians: Alexei Navalny’s History Of Xenophobia

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Jalil Javed
Navalny and his coverage in the Western media
Since last year, Alexie Navalny has often been hailed as a hero in the western media for his valiant defiance of the Kremlin’s ‘corruption’, however; if one was to look more closely at who Alexie Navalny is, many would rethink their previous support of the man.
Navalny’s message against corruption has hit home. Even though his rallies only usually bring out 10,000 people in a city of 13 million, the Western media often portrays these protests as a great resistance against Putin’s ‘reign of tyranny’.
Unfortunately, what’s not shown in these reports and articles is Navalny’s history of rampant xenophobia and bigotry.
Navalny and his rise as an anti-Putin hero
In 2011, when protests broke out in Russia, there were many opposition figureheads, most of whom were arrested, detained, or charged leading to an end to the protests. After this event, Russia saw a near-5 year period of relative calm, however; new protests in 2016 were almost completely dominated with Navalny as the main figurehead, and this was in no small part due to a large amount of attention he received from the Western media. Since then, Navalny has been a central figure in the Putin opposition.
Alexey Navalny rose to his state of notability because of his blog on the website LiveJournal, which still remains his primary means of public relations to this day. In September of 2013, Navalny ran in the Moscow mayoral election against the incumbent mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, and received 27% of the vote, much higher than many had anticipated.

Alexey Navalny and his wife, Yulia, at a rally in 2013.   (Vasili Shaposhnikov/Getty)

Navalny and his bigotry
Navalny, in essence, is part of a liberal party, known as the ‘Progress Party’, however; he does have a number of ultra-nationalist connections, and, on occasion, has been known to share highly xenophobic and bigoted opinions himself.
Navalny was the co-organizer of the “Russia March”, a Moscow-based, hard-nationalist rally that uses slogans such as “Russia for the Russians” and “Stop feeding the Caucasus“. Due to his attendance, he was booted from another liberal party titled ‘Yabloko’; this was generally seen as the party attempting to remove an element that was damaging their reputation, with the party fighting hard to stay separate from such ultra-nationalist behaviour.
Navalny’s hardline stances continue with statements he made during the Russo-Georgian war. In this case, he called Georgians “Rodents” and said that every Georgian should be expelled from Russia. He also showed support for the 2013 Biryulyovo race riots, a neo-nazi clash in which he supported the side that attacked immigrants.
Lastly, he has called people from the Caucuses “Cockroaches”, stating in a video that while cockroaches can be killed with a slipper, he says, for humans, he “recommends a pistol.”
This leads us to an unpleasant situation where we have to ask ourselves a very specific question: for what reason, besides his anti-corruption stance, would the Western media support this man? Is it simply because he took a stand against Putin? Is it because the West’s reasonable distrust of the Russian head of state has led them to become unreasonably trusting of the Russian alternative?
Navalny after his release from custody in March 2015  (AP)

For now, we don’t need an answer; with Navalny currently in prison for 20 days for “calls to participate in an uncoordinated protest”, the man is unlikely to be able to say anything that would cause media to support or condemn him. However, even as we speak, Navalny is currently being brought up as an alternative to Putin by The New York Review of Books, The New Indian Express, and NewsX, even without the man being able to publicly speak.
Navalny will be out of prison soon and will be running for the 2018 Elections, but considering his support is less prevalent than some media outlets portray it to be, he stands a slim chance of winning the election to come.

Featured Image Credits: AFP/Getty


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