Why Should I Expect Justice for My Son Given Other Political Trials?

April 24, 2013
Lyudmila Navalnaya at the editorial offices of The New Times [Photo: Mitya Aleshkovsky]

On April 17, the first session of the Kirovles trial opened at Lenin District Court [in Kirov], in which the chief defendant is opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, founder of RosPil [the anticorruption group].

The New Times spoke with Ludmila Navalnaya, Navalny’s mother, about how the trial will unfold and how the family is preparing for it. (For the full interview with Navalnaya, see The New Times 22 April 2013 issue).

The New Times:  Ludmila Ivanovna [Navalnaya’s patronymic], what do you think about the opening of the trial?

Ludmila Navalnaya:  To speak objectively … as much as I can be objective in a case where I have no doubts — this is a political trial. They want to stop Aleksei’s political activity. Now people are nearly taking bets as to whether they will jail him or give him a suspended sentence. Obviously, either of these options will be a restriction on his political activity. And we have to speak here, in fact, not only about Aleksei. This trial quite neatly correlates with the Bolotnaya case [of demonstrators tried for the 6 May 2012 demonstration on Bolotnaya Square].  Young people who could be my children are now being jailed in that case as well. Obviously, for the authorities, both of these trials are an attempt to intimidate people and remove any manifestation of dissent. Well, as for what I’m experiencing as a mother, I think it is not worth discussing. It is understood in any event what a mother feels when her son could be imprisoned. I’m praying.

The New Times:  Did you read the documents on the Kirovles case, have you studied the file?

Ludmila Navalnaya:  I have been reading and studying it. Since I am an economist by training, I studied all the financial accounting, in particular, the transactions of the Vyatka Lumber Co. In my view, these were purely business operations. But I am not a lawyer and I cannot know whether in general some [criminal code] article could be applied to them. From my purely professional side, I didn’t find anything that was unlawful. Moreover, I listened to my son’s explanations, I listened to what Pyotr Ofitserov said (the former general director of the Vyatka Lumber Company LLC, accused in the Kirovles case–The New Times) and I know completely clearly that my son is not guilty, that the case is fabricated. So, on the one hand, I am calm — my son has not committed any unlawful act and in the moral sense is absolutely vindicated. On the other hand … of course I am very worried for his future.

The New Times:  You yourself mentioned that now everyone is discussing what kind of sentence there should be. And they describe only two options. What sort of outcome are you preparing yourself for?

Ludmila Navalnaya:  Well, what can I expect when I know that in our country, the government controls everything? Why are the kids from the Bolotnaya case in jail for nearly a year?  Or why did they jail the girls from Pussy Riot? For no reason at all. So why should I think that there will be justice regarding my son? This is a situation that is even worse, because he’s a politician. He calls on the government to obey the laws of the country it is trying to rule. Understandably, the authorities want to make out the person who was the first to say [the government is run by a party of] “Crooks and Thieves” to be himself a crook. So I have no illusions at all.

The New Times:  Why didn’t you go to Kirov [to the trial]?

Ludmila Navalnaya: Our whole family discussed this and we decided that it is better if my husband and I come for the sentencing. They have not stated clearly how the trial will proceed, how many days it will take. And there’s also a certain meanness and cynicism in that. Our help may now be needed at home; we have to be with our grandchildren.