Kremlin critics were cheered this week by winning an Oscar for a Western documentary about jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny, but their political movement is in crisis.
Navalny, Russia’s most vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin, is serving 11-and-a-half years in prison in Russia after being convicted of fraud in two cases he and the West say were rigged to silence him. His anti-corruption organization was also banned for being considered extremist.
His supporters cast him as a Russian version of Nelson Mandela, who survived an assassination attempt and will one day be released from wrongful imprisonment to lead Russia. The lawyer-turned-activist remains a fierce critic of the Kremlin, issuing regular statements through his lawyers from behind bars.
But his Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF), which now operates out of Russia, is reeling after its chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, admitted that – unbeknownst to his colleagues – he had pressured the European Union to lift sanctions against Mikhail Fridman, a of the richest men in Russia.
Volkov apologized for what he said was “a big political mistake” and said he was taking time off as ACF president. However, some opposition members were furious, saying the ACF should be trying to hasten Putin’s political demise instead of helping wealthy businessmen.
“This inflicts colossal damage on the image of the Russian opposition,” said Vladimir Milov, a Navalny ally and former deputy energy minister. “After that it will be necessary to restore the reputation of the Russian opposition in the West.”
Source: CNN Brasil
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