A Candidate’s Mistake

July 22, 2013
Navalny addresses a crowd on Saturday, July 20. Dmitry Lovetsky | AP Photo

On the night of 21-22 July a serious discussion burst into flames on Twitter. Like any “world in flames,” it all began with a little step. I re-tweeted the following tweet by Dima Zykov: “Political prisoner Navalny must be supported; candidate Navalny – never.”

The reaction to my re-tweet was instant. Immediately, people decided that my Twitter account had been hijacked, that I had been irradiated by the KGB, that I was drunk. I was accused of treachery and ingratitude; after all, Alexey had supported me during the elections in Khimki. I was promised that God sees everything and punishes. And of course I was cursed many times.

I could understand such a reaction. People sincerely want Alexey not to be jailed and are trying to help him with all their might. They believe that if he can win the elections, then he will remain free.

Since I, too, want freedom for Alexey – because he’s a great guy and he shouldn’t be in prison – that’s why I’m writing this text.

I have two election campaigns behind me. Yes, I lost; in one, I took third place and in the next one, second place, but the main thing is that I acquired some experience. And it’s this experience I want to share.

First of all, I will say something seditious: the voters are totally selfish. One of the most important things to understand in elections is to understand the needs of the voters and show them that you intend to fulfill them. It’s no secret that Moscow is a wealthy city. There are material problems here, of course, but on the whole the people living here by Russian standards are very affluent.

What Muscovites really don’t have is a normal environment for living.

It is no accident that property in the green districts is so expensive. The real luxury is to live next to a park, not have an expensive automobile. But there is a real chase after these parks, squares and gardens – under various pretexts people try to develop them and make money. People make money in the same way with buildings with a cultural heritage, when they tear down old low-story buildings and erect in their place “luxury” buildings but with many floors.

All of these problems are called by one word – environment. The environment is not a squirrel in the forest, it is your child who is sick all the time because he is breathing filthy air. The environment is when we cannot go out of our own courtyard because instead of a park next to our home, there is a building with 40 floors and all of the residents have cars, and the road remains the same as it was. The environment is always about economics. So you can make money with a quick land speculation, building houses over the forest and creating new workplaces for migrants. But you can also, for example, make eco-mobiles, look for new forms of fuel, and create workplaces for Russians who haven’t managed to escape to Silicon Valley. Ecology is a capacious concept. This is a very important question – the question of management of the lands on which we live.

But a surprising fact occurred – in the program of a candidate for mayor in a European city in the 21st century, the word “environment” is missing. There’s no “environment” in the program of Alexey Navalny –  whom I respect, and thanks to whom many people in our country have become really engaged citizens – a man who knows so much about toads!

I sincerely want to help, that’s why I decided not to be silent and to write honestly: Alexei, the topic of the environment is important to Muscovites! To ignore it means not to receive the support of very many people, and consequently lose.

Members of the Ecotrop movement have drafted an ecological program for Moscow and the region and we will be glad if you used it.

Let me note one other important fact. Yesterday’s situation unpleasantly surprised me by the aggressiveness on the part of Alexey’s supporters.

Yes, I understand that they want him to win, but if they react to criticism with swear words and if they call me up and say “stuff your ecology up your c**t, the main thing is that Alexei doesn’t go to jail,” then with such an approach you can most likely harm and push away voters.

I repeat: voters are selfish, they vote for a mayor not on the principle “that he not be put in jail,” but proceeding from “what good he will do us” and environmental expectations in that regard are very important.

For a candidate for the government and his supporters, it is important to react decently to criticism. If we descend from discussing ideas to discussing personalities, then how are we different than the Nashisti [members of Putin’s young organization, Nashi, or Ours].

The ability to listen and make corrections is very important. The government now in fact is notable for its deafness and inability to correct itself and its aggressive reaction to any other opinion. If we want to change the government, then we must become different ourselves. And if at the first stage, while the candidate is only on the road to power, even a hint of criticism provokes such a stormy reaction, then what will happen next when he comes to power?

The Correction of a Candidate

Happy ending!

The hurrah happened! Alexey Navalany has publically promised to include the topic of the environment in his program:


Tweets from Alexey Navalany on environmental policy


Alexey Navalny @navalny: Zhenya @4irikova will definitely support me in the elections and is joining the campaign (and after the elections we will kill her for her love of open letters).

Alexey Navalny @navalny: I will reply to everyone re @4irikova. She has gotten what she wanted, we are adding environment to the program and allotting special cubes [advertising–Ed] for her group made out of branches, moss and birch bark.

Everyone makes mistakes, but everyone has the rare capacity to admit them and began to correct their mistakes. Only a strong and intelligent person is capable of this. In the history of our country, there have been a lot of politicians who considered it real strength to display their macho and not lower themselves to reacting to all kinds of little people. If an idiotic and clearly unpopular decision is made to chop down the Khimki forest or mine nickel on Khopra, they will go to any excesses and even human sacrifices only to have the decision not changed. Inflexibility is the sign of complexes and insecurities about one’s strengths. Our world is too complicated so as to always make the right decisions. And therefore a necessary quality of a leader is that he is not ashamed to support the ability to listen and change.

That is why I say: He’s elected!