Letter From the Editors: Dec. 12 - 18, 2016

Author: Matthew Larson

Socialism Without a Corrupt Face.

Staunch Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny has officially announced an unofficial presidential bid. The high-profile statement raises a lot of eyebrows, questions and faint hopes among Russian political observers. Tatyana Stanovaya writes that the Kremlin has three options for dealing with Navalny, ranging from tough to brutal, and it will most likely favor the latter, since it is in no mood to put up with shenanigans - especially by the likes of Navalny - during a period of geopolitical turbulence. Putin went easy on him three years ago, when the corruption fighter was convicted on embezzlement charges but given a suspended sentence. But the circumstances have changed in the post-Crimean era. Stanovaya says that "in March 2014, Putin crossed an invisible line, beyond which the Machiavellian logic of ‘the end justifies the means’ has become more pronounced and uncompromising. What was unimaginable before 2014 is now a reality." So is Navalny signing another arrest warrant by going toe to toe with his stalwart foe?

Yevgeny Karasyuk comments that while in many respects Navalny and Putin couldn’t be further apart, they are almost kindred spirits politically - oddly enough. Navalny’s proposed campaign platform is very similar to Putin’s, and their statements on many key issues almost identical. Assuming Navalny is allowed to run, he would presumably be a populist candidate in the Putin mold. Just whose interests Navalny would be championing remains to be seen: businesspeople, the middle class, pensioners, the elite. Nezavisimaya gazeta writes that for now he is simply displaying the most alluring goods he has for sale for each group. What he most definitely isn’t selling is full-on Western-style liberalism. NG writes that classic economic liberalism is foreign to Russia, and Navalny won’t be able to peddle it to the populace unless it is tightly wrapped in a populist/socialist package. This isn’t surprising, since socialism in one form or ...

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