Staunton, December 31 – If as some are suggesting 2015 is going to be the year of Aleksey Navalny just as the past years have been those of Vladimir Putin, then it is extremely important that the opposition leader clearly state his positions lest Russians find in his case that they have given the power to someone who will take Russia again in an unwelcome direction.
One area where Navalny has been less than clear about his positions concerns Moscow’s relations with Russia’s regions and Russia’s neighbors – indeed, he has been criticized in the past for playing up to nationalist groups – and that makes it especially important that he be quite specific about his intentions in that regard.
Vadim Shteppa, a regionalist analyst, says that “like all normal people [he] is glad that Aleksey was not put in prison and is angry that his brother Oleg was.” But he suggests that “if Aleksey would study Russian history a little more closely, he would understand that this is the work of the same imperialist matrix” of the past.
The analyst thus asks that Navalny give short and clear answers to three questions:
1) “Should Russia be a federation or an empire?”
2) “If a federation, then on what model should it be built? Will it be an agreement of sovereign regions or the same Kremlin ‘vertical’ but only with [Navalny] instead of Putin?”
3) “Do you [Aleksey Navalny] recognize Ukraine and the other post-Soviet countries are genuinely independent – or do you dream about the remake of the Russian Empire?”
Given how angry many Russians are now at Putin and his crimes against the Russian people and Russia’s neighbors, it is all too easy to assume that almost anyone would be an improvement. And while that may be true in many respects, it is not the case in all, and those supporting anyone to replace the Kremlin dictator deserve to know just what they are backing.