Why Navalny

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by Neil Godfrey

90 seconds of truth and clarity from Irish member of the European Parliament, Clare Daly:

H/t a retweet by Rania Khalek:

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Neil Godfrey

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37 thoughts on “Why Navalny”

  1. That’s completely amazing. What a powerful and truthful speech.
    And it was actually shocking. Just hearing the truth aired in public, for once, is shocking. It reminded me of the wonderful scene when George Galloway went to Washington and told them the truth about the Iraq war.
    And the reaction – the professional politicians certainly don’t like it pointed out that their professed interest in human rights is a total sham.
    Thanks for posting this, Neil

        1. My point is we have people in the political establishment that believe they are correct merely because of the position they hold, a number display complete hypocrisy (as above) and seem to be unaware of it.

  2. Neil, I treat your publications with great respect. But one should not unconditionally trust Putin’s lobbyists in the European Parliament. This politician is telling talks about events in Russia half-truths. I live in Russia and assess the events around Russia from the inside.

    1. Why are you implying Clare Daly’s a Putin lobbyist?

      She infers Navalny is being used to inflame anti-Russian sentiment (but she does not express it herself). Then, she gives some context to Navalny before contrasting support for him to the status of and support for others ie. she’s mostly commenting about different contexts of different people, and contrasting presentation of context, as far as I can see.

    1. I don’t know how that impression arises from her speech. It is clear Daly condemns Navalny’s treatment by Russia but her point, one I thought unmistakably clear, is that the national leaders she is addressing are cowardly and dishonest and are in fact serving agendas other than human rights when they focus on Navalny to the exclusion of those who have suffered even more and for far more worthy causes and those who suffer human rights abuses in countries they DO have even more power to influence, if they wanted to.

        1. Yes, Navalny is. He’s like some of the worst anti-immigrant and racist politicians we have here. I think most of us loathe what he stands for politically. But that doesn’t detract from anything she said, and it doesn’t mean we don’t support his right to the norms of human rights, either.

          It’s not out of the ballpark of how Assange is treated. People loathe his personality (understandably in too many cases) and blame him for Hilary Clinton’s loss in 2016, and a few other things. But none of that justifies his treatment at the hands of the UK government.

          Human rights ought to be a matter of consistency and not a matter of selectivity for political agendas, I am sure we all agree.

          1. Most people are neither good nor bad but somewhere in between. A century of insidious Chekhism imputing some amount of cynical taint to everyone in touches (even tangentially) and so it is not surprising that Navalny falls somewhere on a spectrum of less tainted or more tainted.

            Maybe this will be the year the statue of ‘Iron Felix’ goes back on it’s plinth in front of the Lubyanka Building.

            Dzerzhinsky [Iron Felix], who rarely drank, is said to have told Lenin – on an occasion in which he did so excessively – that secret police work could be done by “only saints or scoundrels … but now the saints are running away from me and I am left with the scoundrels”

            Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy criticised the continuing celebration of the professional holiday of the old and the modern Russian security services on the anniversary of the creation of the Cheka, with the assent of the Presidents of Russia. (Vladimir Putin, former KGB officer, chose not to change the date to another): “The successors of the KGB still haven’t renounced anything; they even celebrate their professional holiday the same day, as during repression, on the 20th of December. It is as if the present intelligence and counterespionage services of Germany celebrated Gestapo Day. I can imagine how indignant our press would be!”

            Quite hard to find now but there was a 1992 film https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chekist which was briefly in circulation before being suppressed a few years later when the siloviks [“securocrats” of the counterintelligence state] had gone through several rounds of playing ‘musical chairs’ to eliminate much of the geriatric dead weight they had been carrying and so reconstitued enough to retake power. Navalny too is a product of the same https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekism he struggles with whether he realizes it or not. A society cannot actively do this sort of shit to itself for years and decades and not expect the trauma of it all to not last for generations.

    1. There is nothing in that clip of Clare Daly’s speech that is “pro-Kremlin”. Nothing. Daly expresses condemnation of how Putin’s Russia has treated Navalny but her main focus is for her European Parliament audience its blatant hypocrisy in using Navalny to sustain an ultimately unjust war machine. There is nothing “pro-Russia” in her speech. It is a call for justice to those who have it in their power to exert pressure for justice on behalf of far more worthy victims than Navalny.

      1. “There is nothing in that clip of Clare Daly’s speech that is “pro-Kremlin”.”

        This is so, in this particular speech but I mean her general point of view, which is also biased.

        “on behalf of far more worthy victims than Navalny”

        I do not know who you mean because I am far from European politics. It’s not Navalny personally, but the fact that the Russian government uses chemical weapons to kill its own citizens, not only Navalny. Neil, if we reason according to the principle that some are more worthy and others less, because we do not like them for one reason or another, we risk losing an objective view of the situation. And this can already be described as bias, but on your part.

        1. The point in this case is about people outside Russia having more concerns for Russia’s treatment of Navalny (as a form of Russia phobia) than for other people, like Assange, Pablo Hasél, Clare Grady, etc. Clare Daly says it’s unbalanced geopolitical concerns.

          None of that diminishes other concerns, such as those you might have, but those are the concerns in this particular situation.

        2. I think we have missed the message Clare was delivering. It is Western governments who are the ones who decide which human rights policies to decide on the basis of “worthy and unworthy victims”, and Clare’s point is the hypocrisy here, because the basis of a worthy or unworthy victim is not the character or cause of the victim, but West’s attitude toward the government being targeted.

          Clare Daly’s point is that the Western targeting of Russia with serious sanctions has nothing to do with human rights — that is a mere public pretence — but everything to do with geopolitics, an effort to undermine Russia’s stability. The proof of Clare’s remarks lies in the fact that far more worthy victims, ones who have never been tainted with racism, are being left to rot in prison without a peak of protest simply because they are “not worthy” because it is the United States that has deemed them unworthy for exposing US war crimes.

    2. Anton,

      Simply because someone appears on RT does not make them a lobbyist for Putin, or “Putin’s puppet”, as some others phrase it. Indeed, a comment like yours “could” be interpreted as being anti-Russian, aka Russophobic. I’m not accusing you of that, but I hope that you understand how others could interpret remarks such as yours as having an underlying anti-Russian basis.

      On a related matter, it is perfectly natural for a nation, such as Russia, to portray itself in a positive light. All countries do that. What annoys many of us, as Neil points out, is the sheer hypocrisy of it all.

      Richard G.

      1. Grabrich
        My comments may seem too emotional and biased, but this is due solely to the fact that I assess events from within Russia, since I am a citizen of Russia. If I criticize the policies of the the policy of the Kremlin oligarchic power, this does not mean that I am a Russophobe. You cannot assess the negative assessment of the government of my country in the context of the attitude towards the country and consider it “Russophobia”. If you criticize the actions of Australian politicians, such a comment is also Australophobic?

        1. Hi Anton,

          I should clarify: I meant to say that your initial comments, on their own, could be construed as being anti-Russian or Russophobic. But I agree that it would be odd for a Russian citizen to be classified as such.

          Regarding the article to which you linked, it seems to cast Daly in a negative light simply because she opposes the European Union’s hardline stance towards Russia & Belarus [there is more, of course, but I’m distilling this down to it’s core}.

          Personally, I oppose sanctions against any nation, as sanctions rarely, if ever, affect the targeted “bad” people. Instead, sanctions affect the regular folk the most severely. Sanctions will have little affect on oligarchs.

          Generally speaking, it seems that when people object to hardline stances towards Russia (and hence, Putin), they are then portrayed as apologists for Russian “imperialism”. On the other hand, when people advocate for a hardline stance against Russia/Putin, then those people are portrayed as supporters of neo-liberalism/new conservatism. It’s possible for both to be true, or one of them to be true, or none of them to be true. It really depends on the person and the specific circumstance.

          I’m Canadian, by the way. 🙂

          Richard G.

          1. Hi Richard,

            The fact is that inside Russia the term “Russophobia” is perceived by many rather ironically, as dollar billionaires from Putin’s inner circle like to use this word. They love to tell the impoverished Russian citizens on TV how they are being bullied in the West. It is completely unreasonable. Having been in power for twenty years, these people defend only and exclusively their personal interests, which for some reason they call “the interests of Russia.” And considering what they themselves turned Russia into: over the years of their twenty-year rule, destroying the industry they inherited from the USSR and turning the country into a raw material appendage of the European Union and China because of their greed and incompetence. They are themselves perceived by a significant part of Russian society as “Russophobes.”

            “as sanctions rarely, if ever, affect the targeted “bad” people. Instead, sanctions affect the regular folk the most severely”

            The anti-Western rhetoric that sounds inside Russia from TV and the Internet is typical for those countries where governments have usurped power and plunged their own people into poverty and are trying to blame their failed economic policy on someone else from outside. In fact, the sad situation in the Russian economy is not directly related to sanctions, but is a consequence of the incompetence of the Russian authorities themselves and their failed reforms in 2000-2007. There are many books and articles on this topic, but they are mainly in Russian. Sanctions for politicians are a fig leaf, as they thus cover up their own incompetence.

            1. Hi Anton,

              I would be shocked if politicians did NOT use their position for personal gain! LOL! Most, if not all, have inflated egos.

              A decade ago, Canada’s then Prime Minister sent out a directive that the words “Government of Canada” in federal communications be replaced with “Harper Government.”


              Not Harper “Administration”, but Harper “Government”. What chutzpah! Imagine if other world leaders did that.

              Richard G.

  3. What we see in operation with the Navalny news cycle in western mainstream media is a classic instance of the propaganda model at work. News media generally make their lead stories on Navalny from statements (and commentary on video clips) that have been delivered by Western political interests (government spokespersons, for example). The commentary generally will cohere with the correct and acceptable range of establishment (especially political and corporate) thought.

    Genuinely independent media and investigative reporting is generally sidelined.

  4. Some people admire her speech (or the excerpt of it). Fine.
    I consider it a jumble of admirable and not.
    The European Union is a geopolitical entity, so a critique of it being such may be beside the point of the question of “why Navalny?”
    As to whether the size of that movement is “mass” or not is debatable, but also beside the point.
    As to whether the other named people have more clean hands and pure hearts and good causes—maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. Maybe the Union would do well act in their cases.
    My main point remains at least my opinion: The government-made nerve agent poison likely can be obtained only with government (you know who) permission and deployed with training and equipment so as not to kill the attempted assassin(s). If the EU condemns that attempt, though my opinion has no standing, and hers does, such seems to me appropriate.

    1. It most certainly is appropriate. But Clare Daly’s point is that the claim that the EU is acting because such an action is appropriately principled is complete hogwash. It is a lie — and history will leave it clear for all to see that the whole point of sanctions is to help destabilize Russia. Navalny is the excuse, the opportunity. If the EU had a principled stand then its actions would be consistent, the principle would be demonstrated by being applied elsewhere where it is appropriate, too. That the EU’s actions are not consistent with a principled policy, but are consistent with a policy effort to help destabilize Russia and justify NATO, is surely the clear message — well that’s what is very clear to me in her speech.

    1. I think all of us like to think we are open minded and that we all agree that its a virtue we would like to cultivate more. The article is of interest, especially given Masha Gessen’s history of work for a US government-funded radio station in Europe. It would be very nice if Navalny publicly turned his back on all his vile racist language of the past and not just selected pieces or moments of it, and it would be great if he could change through these experiences to become a genuine democratic advocate for all social and racial groups in Russia. But even if he does none of those things, the way he has been treated by Putin is obviously criminal — that simply goes without saying.

      But none of that is the point of Clare Daly’s message. That Navalny was said to have a “nasty” record in relation to human rights of minorities in Russia was stated as a foil against other victims of human rights abuses who have no such blemished records. ALL of them, Navalny included, have basic human rights that must be defended and as Clare clearly stated.

      The point that seems to be lost here is that the speech was about the clearly demonstrated hypocrisy of singling out Russia for its treatment of Navalny, a hypocrisy that is most economically explained as the use of a human rights issue as a cover, and excuse, for an effort to promote NATO’s advance and further weaken Russia.

      1. I would not say that Western politicians are so special about human rights within Russia. The human rights situation in Russia is actually much worse than it is presented in the Western media. The killing of journalists and civic activists in small towns is a common occurrence within Russia, which no one in the West is paying close attention to.

        1. If it is even just a little reassuring, I would not say “no-one” because that atrocity is well-known among those “in the west” who follow human rights issues internationally. It is not “the talking point” in the same way the Navalny issue is at present, but that is a direct consequence of the way our media system works. I have posted fairly frequently in the past on western propaganda through the mainstream media. (Search the terms “propaganda” and “mass media” in the search box for a list of those posts.)

          Activists as a rule try to focus most on those centres of abuse where they believe they will have more influence. In Australia, for example, for activists to be speaking out about the killing of journalists and activists in Russia is, unfortunately, not going to have much chance of changing the situation. But making a public fuss about the treatment of indigenous peoples or refugees here is more likely to generate publicity and debate that has more chance of bringing about something positive.

          A classic recent instance was the neo-con invasion of Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a monster and everyone knew that. No-one defended him. But that did not stop people from actively attempting to prevent their government (I’m thinking of Australia but this happened worldwide) throwing their nation’s support for the war against Iraq. Today the same type of propaganda effort is being waged through mainstream media against Russia and China, and again, the same sorts of geo-political agendas as we saw in action leading to the Iraq war are the drivers behind this. The main difference is that in the case of the neo-cons, the crudity of their arguments made their dishonesty more readily apparent to the public. Navalny is being singled out as the opportune person through which to garner public support for Western geo-political and neoliberal interests against Russia. That is why suddenly “Navalny’s human rights” are a “big issue” in the Western media right now.

          Support for the above analysis comes from many studies that have been published making clear the processes of how mainstream media comes to focus on certain issues and not others at different times and places. It’s called the propaganda model and the major pioneering study was ‘Manufacturing Consent’ — though earlier studies had been published (e.g. Carey’s “Taking the Risk Out of Democracy”)

  5. I am not up to date on the EU’s plans, and I haven’t heard the whole speech.
    One could note her call for supporting others. One could note, relevant or not, that she didn’t say how big a movement must be before she will call it “mass.” One could recite don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. Etc.
    But I, in part–and I suggest not by misreading (pace “seems to be lost”)–in considering EU taking up deliberations on the subject appropriate, with her I simply disagree.

  6. During my undergraduate days at Brandeis U. (1968-1972), and with a family member at MIT then (one of 3 family MIT grads), I became aware of Noam Chomsky’s views, intelligently written (though in lectures, in unfortunate monotone). It may be possible that more than one reason moved sanctions against Russia after the attempt to kill Navalny. In any case, if I may say so, I do not consider myself a neoliberal, if I understand the definition rightly. For example, I favor many environmental regulations, the Paris Accord, and so on. But this thread may not be one for me to pursue further, leaving it to, one hopes, the better-informed.

    1. Anything “may be possible” but if we are interested in being better informed there are a range of excellent sources available, both by specialist journalists in media sites and scholars of Europe and Russia and human rights issues and media on scholarly sites. It does take some effort to be better informed, certainly.

      But the point Clare Daly makes is very clear and given my reading of Chomsky’s views I have little doubt he would agree that her point is also grounded in being far better informed than many of her EU audience and media reporters would like to admit.

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