Does Navalny have the upper hand?
After his arrival in Moscow Alexei Navalny was sentenced to 30 days in prison. The trial was held in a police station and the charge was violation of registration requirements. The Kremlin critic called on his supporters via Youtube to protest: "Not for me, but for you, for your future." Commentators discuss what a threat Navalny represents for the Kremlin.
His videos are reaching millions
Projekt believes that millions of people who have been indifferent to politics until now may gradually turn away from Putin:
“Navalny's audience has grown in recent months, and that is potentially more dangerous for the Kremlin than a radicalisation of his core supporters. ... According to surveys, three out of four people know about the poisoning. The videos on the investigation into the poisoning and Navalny's conversation with an FSB [Russian security service] agent involved in it have already been watched by more than 20 million people. ... That's one in six voters in Russia. These people may now become aware of an emerging alternative to a leader, when there has been no alternative until now, and that's a dramatic development. This is a silent protest, but the expression of discontent is increasingly taking the form of partisan warfare anyway.”
The future president
Navalny has a great political career ahead of him, predicts Russian opposition politician Leonid Gozman on gordonua.com:
“Of course he will not win any elections - there will be no such elections. ... But he has every chance of becoming the head of something like a committee of national salvation which is built on the ruins of the regime, and then he will be elected. ... There are two pieces of good news about Navalny as the future leader of the country. ... Firstly, he is backed by very intelligent and professional people. ... Secondly, he represents an alternative to Putin. And that's why he has to do a different kind of politics, politics that are not authoritarian, but democratic. He will not suppress freedom, but promote it; he will not serve his brothers in arms, but fight corruption.”
Fighting fear and cynicism
Navalny's courage in returning to Russia despite the threat of imprisonment is of international relevance, Le Temps emphasizes:
“The Russian opposition leader's gesture is taking place in a very specific context, yet it has universal scope. His courageous decision is a powerful antidote to the ailments of our times: fear, cynicism and hopelessness. He demonstrates the power of an individual who is willing to defend his convictions in a peaceful manner. ... And he highlights the key role of democracies for dissidents and human rights advocates the world over.”
EU needs a resolute strategy
The EU must put the thumbscrews on Putin, urges La Libre Belgique:
“The outraged European communiqués calling for Navalny's release are important. But they are not enough. Nor is the semi-automatic extension of sanctions against Russia. The adoption of additional measures could be a first step, which should be followed by others - for example, the fight against Russian money laundering in certain member states ... The Europeans can no longer avoid a far-reaching debate about their relationship with Russia under President Putin - even if it hurts and exposes their divergences. A clear strategy is not just urgently needed, it is indispensable.”