“Julia Navalni is the opposition leader Russia needs”

Alexei Navalny’s widow is the leader the Russian opposition needs after his “cold-blooded murder,” says Vladimir Ashurkov, director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation and a close friend of the biggest political rival Vladimir Putin may have had to date. “She was the rock he leaned on throughout his career. She is a very strong woman. It is only natural that she decided to carry her husband’s torch and continue his mission of trying to bring freedom and the rule of law to Russia,” he said at an event for correspondents from around the world in London yesterday.

Coinciding with Yulia Navalni’s speech to the European Parliament yesterday – in which she stressed that her husband was “tortured for three years” – several UK-based representatives of the Russian opposition – including Ashurkov – met Analyze the situation in which Moscow finds itself following the dissident’s death in a remote Arctic prison ahead of presidential elections in which Putin is expected to extend his mandate. He has been in power for more than two decades without any opposition.

“The West has underestimated the danger of the Putin regime to humanity,” denounced Ashurkov. “Not only does it pose a danger to the hundreds of thousands of Russians who have been imprisoned for posting messages (against the regime) on networks; not only (it is a danger) to Ukraine due to its brutal aggression that began two years ago and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and many others displaced; not just because of the instability in Eastern Europe. It represents a global threat that undermines the international order and endangers all of humanity,” added the activist and close friend of Navalny, with whom he founded the Russian Anti-Corruption Foundation in 2012.

Ashurkov noted that the dissident’s death had plunged the world into “misery and indignation.” “We assume that his transfer from a prison relatively close to Moscow, where a lawyer visited him almost daily, to another, more remote prison served to prepare for his murder, as less information would be leaked to the outside world,” explained he. He believes it is “highly likely” that the murder was the result of “prisoner exchange negotiations” with the West, although it is “quite difficult to say with certainty.”

Marina Litvinenko also took part in the event organized by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) and called on the international community not to recognize the results of the upcoming elections in March. “Not recognizing Vladimir Putin as the new elected president will be the strongest message for Russia and the Russian people, who have no choice but to vote for him,” he added. If there is anyone today who can understand Navalni’s widow, it is her, because her husband, the former spy Alexander Litvinenko, He was poisoned with polonium from contaminated tea in a hotel in central London in 2006.

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For his part, Tom Keatinge, director of the Center for Financial Crime and Security Studies (RUSI), pointed out that the West “must help Ukraine win the war, and not just help it survive, which is what we are doing now.” The Russian central bank in Belgium has assets worth 300 billion euros deposited, while the United States is debating whether or not to provide Ukraine with another 50 billion dollars.” “We must act more aggressively to help Ukraine win to help,” he argued.

Russia’s influence on its neighbors

The UK’s intelligence services said yesterday that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had led to a “significant turnaround” in Moscow’s relations with the countries of the Soviet Union, where there had been a “decline” in its influence. “Russia continues to believe with almost complete certainty that maintaining its influence in these countries is a priority of its foreign policy, which is crucial to internal security and economic prosperity,” the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

So they emphasize that “since February 2022, despite the fact that there are differences between countries, Russia’s overall influence over its immediate neighbors has declined“, before noting that the resources allocated to the war and the failure to make significant progress “have called into question its traditional position as a guarantor of security in the region.”

“Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty has increased the possibility of a security threat from Russia itself. The decline of the Russian economy and the threat of secondary sanctions “has increased concerns about economic dependence on Russia,” they clarify. In this sense, they have pointed out that “in response to these trends, the states of the former Soviet Union have intensified their efforts to reduce their economic, political and security diversification” and its dependence on Russia.

“While Russia maintains a significant presence in the region, both overtly and covertly, the Kremlin’s ability to achieve its goals has almost certainly declined significantly over the past two years,” they argue.

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