Alexei Navalni or the victim on the altar of democracy

The permafrost or perennial ice that surrounds the Correctional center IK-3, located in the Siberian region Yamal-Nenetswhere Russian opponent Alexei Navalni was declared dead yesterday at the young age of 47 and under still unclear circumstances, is a metaphor for the constant situation of legal and physical uncertainty faced by every politician who opposes the neo-tsar Russia , Wladimir Putin. Either one agrees with his vision of the world, or the long fingers of his absolutist politics penetrate the lives of those opposed to the established order, like ice water that, having crawled through the cracks of a rock, can break it to pieces . . No man is made of granite, but the legacy he can leave in life is another thing that the Kremlin can neither control nor erase in this case.

This will not be the case because the memory of the men whose actions were aimed at improving the lives of others and, in this case, freeing them from the chains of an increasingly oppressive regime will be well maintained and remembered, like Navalni’s own career shows. “Death is not the end,” says the verse of the song, which sounds like an anthem in honor of the fallen soldiers of the Spanish armed forces. His actions have made him a symbol of Russian resistance, as hard as the eternal ice that surrounds the place where he died; an icon against the Stalinist current in his country. Now the pain he suffered in life, the health problems related to his hunger strikes and the poisoning of which he was a victim in 2020, will be part of the story of the Russian who had the courage to protect Putin from the invasion of the Ukraine to tell It is “the stupidest and most senseless war of the 21st century”.

His resistance was unimaginable when he decided to return to Russia, knowing full well that he would be arrested and sent to the Gulag, possibly costing him his life. He did it anyway, either because he was convinced that his return would have a domino effect on the population who were also opposed to the regime, or because he saw only martyrdom as a way to help end Putin. We’ll never know. What we do know, however, is his heroic and constant struggle against the neo-tsar sitting on the golden throne of the Kremlin, as he did during the trial for “extremism” in the Moscow City Court that took place in 2023. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

After being missing for days during his rendition, he recently resurfaced at the IK-3 correctional center in Jarp, located nearly 2,000 km northeast of Moscow in the frozen Yamal-Nenets region. A place where everyone who has read the works Alexander Solzhenitsynthe Russian Nobel Prize winner for literature, whose criticism of the regime also landed him in prison, for example Gulag Archipelago or A Day in the Life of Ivan DenisovichHe knows that the harsh Arctic region of northern Russia is a frozen hell. A remote prison designed for inmates to die slowly in a harsh climate and for the world to forget its prisoners, although those who die unjustly within its walls often leave a legacy of resistance to history for that very reason Worthy are personalities like Nelson Mandela. However, Navalni did not live to see his reconciliation work continue.

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The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service assured that the opponent went for a walk and “almost immediately lost consciousness.” He was treated in prison, but “all resuscitation efforts yielded no positive result.” According to Russian newspaper RBK, Moscow says a commission will investigate the circumstances of the death, but given the long list of journalists, activists and political opponents who have died in mysterious circumstances since Putin came to power, we may never know whether Navalny died, became ill or was killed due to the inhumane conditions in which he lived. Whether clarified or not, this has faded into the background compared to the example of personal integrity it represents for the Russian opposition.

Perhaps now his tragic death and the crimes of which he was found guilty, many of which were fabricated, such as the creation and financing of an extremist organization, the corruption of minors or extremist public calls against the state, will become an inspiration to his followers and heirs. Perhaps in the next presidential election in Russia, which will undoubtedly be botched and will have no capable opposition due to its dissolution, they will take to the streets to demonstrate whenever they could, as the opponent demanded. The sad end of this graduate of the Russian Peoples’ Friendship University in 1998 and his short political career in 2011 was described by the BBC as “the only major opposition figure to emerge in Russia in the last five years”leaves a deep void that will be difficult to fill.

But it also proves that behind the Kremlin’s control of the media, its security and intelligence services, which leave a trail of opponents dying of poisoning, falling out of windows or committing suicide with the whole family in their homes, there is a distant, murderous Russia Megalomania of its leaders, whose plans for war and conquest cause only pain and death, according to historical claims so outdated that they belong in museums. A Russia that paraphrases Sting’s famous song about the nuclear tensions between Moscow and Washington in the 1960s: “Believe me when I tell you, I hope he loves his children too.” And let him do it to the end, when it comes to those who like it Alexei Navalni, have sacrificed themselves on the altar of democracy.

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