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Tags: alexei navalny | yulia navalnaya | vladimir putin | opposition | kremlin
CORRESPONDENT

Is Navalny's Widow Right Choice to Lead Putin Opposition?

John Gizzi By Thursday, 22 February 2024 10:01 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Barely days after the stunning news that Alexei Navalny had died under unknown circumstances in a Russian prison, the anti-Putin dissident's widow Yulia announced she would continue to lead the movement begun by her late husband.

"Putin killed half of me, but my other half won't give up," said Yulia Navalnaya, an economist and mother of two. "I will continue Alexei Navalny's cause."

Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation has turned a considerable portion of Russia's younger generation into opponents of Putin and the ruling party. With dozens of offices throughout Russia's 11 time zones, ACF was considered the groundwork for a second bid for the presidency by Navalny until he was banned from seeking office and subsequently imprisoned.

So, the big question among Kremlinologists worldwide is, Can Yulia Navalnaya revive, regenerate, and lead her late husband's movement?

"Yulia Navalnaya will be an important leader of the Russian opposition but it will be difficult for her to continue the work of her husband if she remains abroad," David Satter, onetime Financial Times correspondent in Moscow and author of three critically-acclaimed books on Russia. "Alexei Navalny uncovered corruption under the conditions that existed in Russia before the beginning of full-scale war. Navalny's network will be hard to activate until the war ends."

A. Craig Copetas, onetime Wall Street Journal reporter in Moscow and author of "Bear Hunting with the Politburo," agreed.

"It's downright impossible to lead the opposition to Putin from exile," Copetas told Newsmax, "You don't see [chess champion and dissident Garry] Kasparov or [onetime prisoner and outspoken Putin foe Mikhail] Khodorkovsky going back to Russia."

Laure Mandeville, formerly Moscow bureau chief for France's Le Figaro and author of two bestselling books on Putin's Russia, said the success of Navalnaya as an opponent to Putin "is still an open question but she certainly has shown the inner strength and charisma to do so. Up to now she was with him but resolutely behind, not politically present but personally at his side. But with her statement she is stepping forward in a powerful way.

"Yulia for now has the power of a symbol, the symbol of a widow asking people to stand with her and share her rage and anger towards Putin, because he deprived her, her family and Russia of their future."

The scenario of a widow carrying on the political cause of her fallen husband is an old and frequently successful one.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world's first woman prime minister in 1960 following the assassination of her prime minister husband in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

In 1983, when her husband Ninoy was killed at the Manila Airport, Cory Aquino became the premier opponent to Filipino strongman Ferdinand Marcos and eventually president of the Philippines.

The 1978 shooting of crusading Nicaraguan publisher Pedro Chamorro propelled wife Violetta to leadership of the opposition to Marxist ruler Daniel Ortega and her election as president in 1990.

But Yulia Navalnaya faces more complex problems than her predecessor widow-leaders faced.

The Putin opposition, as Mandeville noted, "is scattered and divided and spread out all over the world. It's not clear whether she could unify the opposition abroad."

Another question is the legitimacy because unlike [former Belarus presidential candidate] Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, she can't claim any legitimacy of the vote.

Still she could play a part preparing the future in the event of a sudden fall out in Moscow, like Khodorkovsky has tried to do. The Christian path of Alexei is a powerful inspiration.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


John-Gizzi
Barely days after the stunning news that Alexei Navalny had died under unknown circumstances in a Russian prison, the anti-Putin dissident's widow Yulia announced she would continue to lead the movement begun by her late husband.
alexei navalny, yulia navalnaya, vladimir putin, opposition, kremlin
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2024-01-22
Thursday, 22 February 2024 10:01 AM
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