Navalny the politician

Published February 22, 2024

By Gary Pearce

Alexei Navalny was a hero, an inspiring leader and a man of courage, compassion and character who stood up to men of cowardice, corruption and cruelty.

He was also a politician, in the best and noblest sense of that much-maligned and despised word.

He was a political threat. He would have beaten Putin in a free and fair race for President of Russia.

So Putin had him murdered.

Navalny was charismatic, down-to-earth and a compelling speaker.

He built a national political organization.

He had 13 million YouTube followers.

He could laugh at himself.

He had a beautiful family.

No wonder Putin was afraid of him. Afraid to even say his name.

Navalny’s masterful political skills are evident in the Oscar-winning CNN documentary “Navalny.”

The film recounts how Navalny and his team exposed Putin’s failed plot to poison him in 2020 – and unmasked members of the assassination squad.

Navalny even tricked one of the would-be killers, in a phone call captured on video, into telling all.

In January 2021, he returned to Russia, and was immediately imprisoned.

Two days later, his team released his video investigation of Putin’s corruption: “Putin’s palace. The story of the world’s biggest bribe.”

It was viewed more than 100 million times. An estimated one in four Russians saw it.

Last Friday, a month before Russia’s presidential election, Putin’s goons finally finished killing him.

Why did Navalny return to Russian, risking prison and death?

Because, as his widow Yulia Navalnaya said this week, he wanted to build “a free, peaceful, happy Russia.”

Happy. That’s a word you don’t hear much in politics.

Almost 250 years ago, a few Americans risked all for the unalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Throughout our history, politicians – like Lincoln and FDR – have protected and advanced those rights.

In the 2022 documentary, Navalny said, “If they decide to kill me, it means that we are incredibly strong. We don’t realize how strong we actually are. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. So don’t be inactive.”

This year, we too can stand up for honesty over corruption, freedom over tyranny and democracy over dictators.

What we have to do is vote.