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Jan 29, 2021
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Yulia Navalnaya to challenge Putin

In the photo: A. Navalny's wife Julia

In the photo: A. Navalny’s wife Julia (Photo: Sergey Fadeichev / TASS)

If Alexei Navalny is not in demand, the West will try to make his wife “the second Tikhanovskaya”. This was announced to RIA Novosti by the head of the Federation Council commission for the protection of state sovereignty Andrey Klimov

Is this real? Will the West try to repeat the Belarusian scenario in our country?

– The West, which has fallen under the heel of global corporations, acts in the logic of corporate governance, – I am convinced expert of the Center for Political Analysis Andrey Tikhonov

– There is no place for improvisation, but there are algorithms. Even if these algorithms fail, as in the case of Guaido and Tikhanovskaya, they will be applied persistently and methodically. Therefore, the appointment of Navalny or Navalny to such a role looks quite a working option.

“SP”: – But will any of them be effective as a leader? Tikhanovskaya is clearly failing this point … Are such “politicians” in demand in society?

The question is not about effectiveness for the opposition; an alternative “head of state” recognized by the West should become an instrument of pressure on the legitimate government and cause hesitation in it.

Public policy in Russia is in crisis. We are not unique in this, this is a global trend. It is only conditional to talk about the demand for certain types of politicians in the current conditions. Let’s say that Corbin is in demand in the UK, and Sanders in the US, but they were artificially pushed aside. Navalny is being artificially promoted in Russia, although his type and image are not at all typical for our latitudes.

“SP”: – Political strategist Marat Gelman believes that Yulia Navalnaya, “who saved her husband from death, has become a strong political figure” capable of winning elections against any politician in Russia except Putin, and no matter how clever the opponents’ plans are. Seriously?

– Gelman is wishful thinking. Navalny’s recognition is limited by non-systemic opposition. The so-called deep people have never heard of her, moreover, they are conservative and prefer male politicians.

“SP”: – If Navalny sits down and his team presents his wife as a replacement, will Navalny’s supporters accept her as the new leader? Does personality matter to them?

“It’s not only Navalny’s supporters who are taking part in the protests. Yulia Navalnaya may be an even better leader for non-systemists. She does not have a negative background like her husband – chauvinistic statements, participation in corporate wars, criminal cases. There are no dictatorial habits. She has a nicer face after all.

– In Russia, in principle, the Belarusian scenario cannot be repeated, since Russia has a different political system, economic structure, international situation, – I am sure Dmitry Galkin, political columnist for the 2000 newspaper

– Secondly, the West did not help transform Tikhanovskaya into a major political figure. This was done by Lukashenka himself, having removed from participation in the presidential elections all candidates whom he considered dangerous, and imprisoning Viktor Babariko, who had the greatest chance of winning.

Tikhanovskaya would never have become a politician if Lukashenko had not decided to guarantee his victory with the help of repression. It is clear that such actions caused massive indignation in the Belarusian society, in which, due to socio-economic difficulties, there was already a fairly high level of protest moods.

Poland took advantage of the situation, which is trying by all means to increase its influence in the post-Soviet space. As for the USA, Great Britain, Germany and France, they do not make any noticeable efforts to bring Tikhanovskaya to power. It is not clear to me how the “Belarusian scenario” can be repeated without holding presidential elections in Russia, to which all candidates will not be allowed.

“SP”: – If Navalny is imprisoned, our opposition will gladly accept Navalny’s wife as one of the leaders?

– Firstly, there is no mass protest movement in Russia yet, it is just being formed, and it is not known how this process will end. Secondly, there are no parties in Russia that are represented in the State Duma or have a real chance of getting there, do not demand the resignation of the president and do not make him responsible for socio-economic problems. There are groups of dissatisfied people who put forward political slogans, but have no influence on the course of the political process. The West understands this well, and therefore they are not going to appoint any leaders of the nonexistent Russian protest.

“SP”: – Tikhanovskaya has not yet shown herself in any way, sitting in Lithuania and driving around Europe, she is not even the only leader of the opposition recognized by all. Doesn’t it seem that Tikhanovskaya did not live up to trust? Will Navalny be more effective in this capacity?

– Whose trust should Tikhanovskaya justify? If they were Belarusian citizens, they hardly expected that she would personally lead demonstrations or hand out leaflets. If the Polish political circles, which have relied on the support of Tikhanovskaya, then it is clearly not Tikhanovskaya’s fault that Warsaw does not have enough international influence in order to achieve the adoption of tough sanctions against Minsk. The influence of a politician who is the leader of a protest movement directly depends on how powerful public support this movement has within the country.

Leading European politicians are meeting with Tikhanovskaya because tens of thousands of people are taking part in protests in Belarus, a country with a population of 10 million. If not for this factor, then no media “promotion” of Tikhanovskaya would have forced the leaders of the EU countries to take her seriously, and even the most active support from Poland would not have been able to change this situation. If a mass protest movement develops in Russia, and Yulia Navalnaya becomes its leader, then the attitude of external players towards her will also be determined by the scale of the protest actions.

“SP”: – To what extent are such “politicians” and their wives in demand in Russia? Well, gathering people to shout in the square is one thing, but they have no constructive agenda and cannot be?

– In Russian society (as in Ukrainian on the eve of the last presidential elections) there is an obvious demand for a politician capable of becoming a leader of protest sentiments, who could be perceived by the mass audience as a tough opponent of the political system as a whole.

On the one hand, Navalny meets this condition. On the other hand, the media image created by its supporters is attractive for a very limited social group – residents of large cities from families with incomes 2-3 times higher than the average for the region at the age of 20 to 40 years. It is clear that there are relatively few of these people in the country, perhaps one and a half to two million people, but it is they who today are becoming the core of the emerging protest movement.

As protest sentiments intensify, new social groups will pour into the protest movement. Therefore, if in Russia there are no politicians capable of fighting for leadership in the protest movement (and so far they are not visible), Navalny can count on significant public support. He will not need any “constructive agenda” for this, and what exactly is written in his socio-economic program, which he was developing for the 2018 presidential elections, does not really matter.

“SP”: – Professor of the Polish Academy of Sciences Pavel Koval considersthat Navalny needs to adapt his program to the expectations of the Russians, not the West.

– It is difficult to understand what it means to “adapt the program to the expectations of Russians.” Kowal, incidentally, headed the center-right parties “Poland is Most Important” and “Poland Together”, which did not address the population as a whole, but to individual, not the most numerous social groups.

Russian society is extremely heterogeneous, therefore, in principle, there is no socio-economic program that meets the expectations of the entire society. Navalny relies on the support of a certain social group, the expectations of which he meets. But he will be able to go beyond it only if the political crisis develops quickly, and other politicians claiming to be the leader in the protest movement do not appear.

If events develop in some other way, then no programs and slogans will help to become a leader of the protest. It is unlikely that some influential Western politicians seriously expect that, using Navalny, they will be able to create a protest movement capable of changing the government. This requires a huge investment and effort that may not bring the desired result. There are simpler ways to influence the behavior of the Russian authorities without creating the risk of prolonged political destabilization in the country possessing nuclear weapons.

The protest movement led by Navalny may try to strengthen the positions of those intra-government groups that have secured the support of the ruling circles of the countries of the Western community. But so far there is no evidence that the countries most interested in changing the political situation in Russia are implementing such plans.

“SP”: – The same Koval believes that Navalny “has a chance to take advantage of the situation in which Vladimir Putin’s entourage may seriously think about his removal” …

– When a political crisis begins, it seems that many politicians have the opportunity to wage a successful struggle for power. But as the crisis develops, it turns out that their number is still limited, and the politicians who were considered the leaders of the protest do not correspond to the mass perceptions and requirements that were formed during the crisis. Now, when the political crisis in Russia is just beginning to develop, and the authorities still have a chance to significantly slow down the process, it may seem that Navalny is capable of becoming the leader of a protest movement waging a successful struggle against the authorities. But this is nothing more than assumptions based on current trends. But, if the crisis continues to develop, the balance of power in the protest movement is likely to change. In addition, I am not sure that it is the protest movement that will determine the scenario of the transition of power and the nature of political changes.

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