Alexei Navalny: Go to the Russian March Without Me

November 7, 2013
Russian March

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny did not attend this year’s Russian March, an event where nationalists rally to protest against immigration-related issues. This year, as in the past, there was a strong presence of blatant racism and neo-Nazism, which might explain why Navalny would not want to go. However, Navalny is a nationalist, someone who thinks that immigration policies are dangerous and are weakening Russia, and as you can see he still encouraged his followers to go to the march.

An editorial in the pro-Kremlin Izvestia, translated by The Interpreter, attempted to read between the lines of Navalny’s statement and assign hidden motives to his decision. Navalny’s statement below actually anticipates some of this criticism. Readers should consider both the criticism and the statement and drawn their own conclusions. – Ed.

During the last march in defense of political prisoners, some guy walked alongside me in the column with a poster that said, “Navalny, will you go to the Russian March, too?” The guy was very satisfied with himself and shouted that he had voted for me, without understanding the stupidity and inappropriateness of his dumb poster.

He was pushed away with shouts of “provocateur,” but I don’t think he was a provocateur (in the sense that he was doing this for money), he was just an idiot.

But he was the type who is an excellent example of the strange hysteria and commotion which has been kicked up lately around my participation in the Russian March.

I have taken part in each Russian March since 2007, although I was not at the last one – I stayed home in bed with a temperature and read “commentaries” and “political analysts” about how I wasn’t really sick, of course.

This year, I am deliberately not going, and I will try to explain why – for me this is important; after all, in some sense, this is my political failure.

Since 2007, I have been explaining why everyone should go, but it hasn’t worked out very well.

Since 2007, I have patiently and consistently explained to everyone who is outraged that the Russian March is an objective phenomenon, it has its premises: migration, social stratification, political and legal offshore activity in the Caucasus; the squeezing of nationalists out of politics, and so on.

Whether we want it or not, the Russian March will take place. And it depends precisely on you, how it will look:

a) a mob of marginal personages and school-kids saluting “Seig Heil”
b) a normal parade of conservatively-minded citizens – men and women who have come out to declare their lawful rights.

To be honest, in 2007, I was sure that closer to 2013, the Russian March would look exactly like the second option in the course of its natural evolution.

This didn’t turn out, unfortunately, although it must be said that the new nationalist leaders Krylov, Belov, Tor and others have done enormous work so that political Russian nationalism can exist in an acceptable European format, and the Russian Civic Movement has become an excellent example of a human rights organization of a new type.

The resistance is enormous: the Kremlin has not registered the National Democratic Party and New Force, but itself finances marginal Murzilka groups which use violence; the media, which portrays nationalists as a bogeyman or ridicules them; the liberal democratic public which doesn’t wish to take upon itself part of the responsibility for the civilized development of nationalism.

Thanks to all of this, participation in the Russian March continues to be perceived by a broad circle of voters as an exoticism, if not something frightening. The problem isn’t some “liberals” — in fact nothing will happen to them, but I am speaking just about the babushkas, thousands of whom I talked to all summer long at meetings with voters.

As before, I support the Russian March as an idea and as an event, and am prepared to help with information or in some other way, but in the new situation I cannot take part in it myself.

Perhaps someone will be sarcastic about this, but after the Moscow elections I feel a big weight of responsibility and must maintain that political balance that enabled me (us) to obtain a significant result.

The unification process and the interaction of all the groups now is more important than explanatory work ([of the sort] you see, I went to the Russian March and no one ate me alive, and I didn’t eat anyone alive, and 95% of them are completely normal people).

My participation in the Russian March now would turn into a hellish movie comedy: like St. Boniface surrounded by children, I would go into the crowd with 140 photographers and cameramen who would be trying to film me against the backdrop of school-kids making “Seig Heil” salutes.

Naturally, our “Kremlin friends” would do everything to make it so that there would always be a lot of these “Seig Heil” kids around me at all times.

And then the “television anchor” “Solovyov” and the “journalist” “Kiselyov” would spend three months running that on federal television, describing how “quickly liberals and fascists united after all, sensing the sweet smell of pogroms. They trembled impatiently with the foretaste of broken doors in liquor stores,” and so on.

I don’t want to give them that opportunity whatsoever.

And I don’t want the efforts of the Kremlin riff-raff in discrediting me to lead to the discreditation of the Russian March.

Once again: for me, it was a very difficult decision, realizing that there would be many critics, but I hope for understanding.

The Russian March 2013 will take place on November 4 in Lyublino.

Meet at noon at the cross-roads of Pererva and Belorechenskaya streets.


Participation in the Russian March is important. Everyone who is trying to decide whether to go or not – come.