Person of the Week: Aleksei Navalny

posted 8 May 2017, 07:46 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 8 May 2017, 08:06 ]
On 29 April 2017 REN-TV released footage of the attack that had taken place on 27 April on Aleksei Navalny, a prominent leader of the political opposition and anti-corruption activist, outside the office of the Anti-Corruption Foundation which he heads. As The Moscow Times reported, the video had evidently been "filmed by someone who may have known about it in advance." The paper noted that on 1 May 2017, "Navalny supporter Eugene Bryzgalin revealed that Ren-TV’s website actually contained another three versions of the same video clip, including one version that revealed the face of the second man in the footage. Bloggers later identified the second man as Alexei Kulakov, a member of the radical pro-Kremlin movement 'SERB'." 

On 2 May, Halya Coynash, writing on the website Human Rights in Ukraine noted that a man reportedly responsible for the attack on Navalny was said to be Aleksandr Petrunko, who had led pro-Russian activists in an attempt to seize control in Kharkiv, Ukraine in 2014. That day Aleksei Navalny announced he was filing an official complaint against police for failing to investigate the attack on him. As RFE/RL reports, Navalny wrote that he had lost 80% of the vision in his right eye as a result of the green antiseptic thrown in his face - a liquid which possibly also contained other harmful chemicals. Navalny also alleged that the attacker was Aleksandr Petrunko who was helped, Navalny alleged, by one Aleksei Kulakov, a police officer in civilian clothes. On 5 May, reports said Igor Beketov, leader of the radical pro-Kremlin South East Radical Block (SERB), said police plan to question him and his colleagues over the attack on Navalny.

On 3 May Kirov Regional Court upheld an embezzlement verdict against Aleksei Navalny and his co-defendant, Petr Ofitserov. The ruling means that Navalny will not be able to stand as a candidate in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections. As RFE/RL reports, Navalny and Ofitserov were convicted in 2013 of large-scale embezzlement from a state timber company, Kirovles. They both received suspended sentences of five and four years respectively and both were fined 500,000 roubles each. The retrial came about after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2016 that the 2013 legal proceedings had not been a fair trial. The ECtHR called the actions of the two men 'indistinguishable from regular commercial activity.' However, in the retrial the two were again convicted.

On 4 May, as The New York Times reported, Navalny said the authorities were preventing him from travelling abroad for medical care for his damaged eye. However, on 7 May it was reported that Navalny had left Russia for treatment in Barcelona.

Photo: RFE/RL

'Navalny's Supporters Track Down His Attackers, as Police Dawdle,' The Moscow Times, 1 May 2017
Halya Coynash, 'Navalny attacker led 2014 attempt to repeat Donbas seizure of power in Kharkiv,' Human Rights in Ukraine, 2 May 2017
'Navalny Accuses Police Of Failing To Investigate Attack,' RFE/RL, 2 May 2017
'Russian Court Upholds Navalny's Latest Embezzlement Verdict,' RFE/RL, 3 May 2017
Reuters, 'Kremlin Critic Navalny Says Russia Stops Him Traveling Abroad,' The New York Times, 4 May 2017
Carl Schreck, 'Russian Police Probe Radical Pro-Kremlin Group Over Navalny Attack,' RFE/RL, 5 May 2017
'Russian Activist Navalny Reportedly On Plane To Barcelona For Eye Treatment,' RFE/RL, 7 May 2017