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Thinking About Politically Challenging Putin? Think Again.

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

For 8 years, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, has held power and is showing no signs of stopping his attempt to take full control of his enemies. There are many stories, scandals, and corruption cases that one can talk about for days but today, I am going to talk about current Russian and United States relations and what’s at stake.

Vladimir Putin, a powerful oligarch, and president of Russia is unleashing his inner beast by threatening his political challengers. Putin will go extremely far to protect his power, even if it means imprisoning someone and starving them. Alexei Navalny, a Kremlin critic, and politician made a name for himself after wanting to politically challenge Putin at the ballot box. On one side, millions of Russians and anti-kremlin critics see Navalny as a hero. On the other side, Putin and his supporters view Navalny as a threat to the Kremlin.

In 2008, Alexi Navalny rose in Russian politics and lead an organization that focused on an anti-corruption campaign against the Kremlin and for many years, he led countless protests. Then in 2018, according to the BBC, Alexi Navalny was barred from challenging Putin at the ballot box due to his fraud conviction.

In brief, Alexi Navalny was charged with fraud by spending over 2 million dollars of his campaign donations on personal finances. Navalny’s anti-corruption campaign was also labeled as “extreme” by a court in Russia and now top Navalny campaign officials face up to 10 years in prison.

If you thought that was enough revenge for Putin, you’re wrong. Putin went so far to destroy Navalny that Navalny was even poisoned and nearly died. There is no probative physical or documentary evidence connecting Putin to the poisoning of Navalny but Putin never pushed back on it nor condemned it. On another note, even though there is no hardcore evidence connecting Putin to the poisoning, Put had much to gain from it such as Putin wouldn’t have a challenger to his presidency. He has also been targeted twice with an antiseptic green dye is known as zelyonka and suffered chemical burns to the eye. Nalvanys suffering didn’t stop there.

According to a lawyer for Alexi Navalny whose name is unknown, for obvious reasons, Navalny is “seriously ill”. This isn’t the first time that any person is treated horribly in a Russian prison. There have been countless cases that involve sexual assault, harassment, and many other allegations. As I mentioned before, this isn’t surprising because anyone who threatens the Kremlin or Putin will face dire consequences.

So now where does this leave US relations with Russia? The simple answer is: complicated. The United States and other allied countries have voiced their concerns about human rights abuses in Russia but things still remain the same. Our relationship with Russia has always been unstable and complicated with no signs of it recovering. One thing for sure is that no matter how many times the United States or other allied countries sanction Russia, Putin doesn’t care. The reason for that is when the US and its allies sanction Russia, it isn’t Putin that feels the effects. It’s the poor and middle class of the Russian people that feel the economic sanctions. Putin and his millionaire, oligarch friends don’t feel a thing.

However, there are encouraging signals that these sanctions are working. One example is that on November 25th, after the United Nations and other human rights organizations voiced their concern on human rights abuses in Russian prisons, Vladimir Putin fired Alexander Kalashnikov- the former Russian prison chief and replaced him with Arkady Gostev, a deputy interior minister. So did the sanctions work? Well for this particular case, you can argue that it probably did but there are dozens of more cases that are unheard about in the deep, dark secrets of Russia.

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