Definitely, Vladimir Putin should offer a bonus for dangerous work to his political opponents and to journalists who cover Russian politics. Putin’s main opponent Alexei Navalny is in critical condition in a Siberian hospital.
Doctors treating him in this remote location say without laughing that he is the victim of “low blood sugar”. As if the problems of hypoglycemia suddenly appeared at 44 years old and required to put a patient in an induced coma. Navalny’s personal physician considers his patient to be showing symptoms of poisoning. But how to prove it? Siberian doctors have delayed the transfer of Navalny to a German hospital. By the time the traces of the poison disappear?
1. Who is Alexeï Navalny?
Alexei Navalny is the best known opponent of Putin. Imprisoned on several occasions in disguised political trials, he has been convicted of embezzlement, preventing him from running for the presidency of Russia. He criticizes Putin from all quarters. He accuses him of forming a party run by crooks and fraudsters. The opponent was reportedly the victim of a first poisoning attempt in 2019, while in prison.
2. Why is Vladimir Putin murdering his opponents?
Putin has special forces that are efficient and discreet. Like all dictators, Putin seems convinced that without him his country would sink into chaos. But Putin denies this kind of practice. He has already suggested that the Russian special forces are leaving no trace. In fact, the assassination of opponents deters some opponents of Putin from being overly critical.
3. Why poison Navalny now?
Putin, despite his popularity hovering around 60%, is going through a difficult period. Of course, he has just emerged victorious from a referendum that will allow him to remain in power for many years. But COVID-19 is hurting the Russian economy, like that of every other country on the planet. With 6,500 cases per million inhabitants, Russia ranks 38th among the most infected countries, far behind the United States, which ranks 8th. But Russia is doing worse than most European countries. And despite encouraging figures, the epidemic is slowly resolving.
4. What can democracies do?
Apart from the usual condemnations, democracies cannot do much against Putin’s practices. The United States is negotiating a new nuclear arms limitation agreement with the Russian government. Either way, Donald Trump loves dictators and their iron fist. As for the European countries, they are too divided to offer a united and coherent foreign policy vis-à-vis Russia.
5. Would American policy towards Russia change under Joe Biden?
It is likely that US policy towards Russia would be much harsher under Biden than under Trump. Biden said extremely little about foreign policy in his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination. His speech centered on the domestic issues of the United States, and from this perspective, Biden’s top priority is to prevent the Russian government from interfering in the American electoral process. The rest seems to him incidental. Indeed, as long as the United States and the other democracies have not reorganized and strengthened, the dictators will have a good game to put down their opposition.