Well, he had his fifteen minutes. What more can a person ask?
The March 10th protest in Moscow organized by Aleksei Navalny ended in absolutely humiliating failure. By this time, according to Navalny’s promises when the movement began, we were to be seeing close to a million Russians on the streets of Moscow. Instead, we saw just 10,000 somber, clueless faces. And the opposition lied shamelessly about the attendance, putting for the utterly ridiculous propaganda that 25,000 were present. It was a utter disaster. But look below the surface and it was even worse.
Look at who, for instance, comprised that tiny, ragtag group: A hoard of skinheads, neo-Nazis, and Communists was a big chunk. Their flags dominated the scene. Remove them, and the pathetic remainder would have seemed little more than rabble.
Even more important, there was no focus to the meeting, no memorable speech, no energy in the crowd at all. No leadership, no unity of purpose or even of organization. The movement has clearly shown itself unable to sustain its momentum for even five months, much less the five years that will need to pass before another election of significance will happen in Russia.
Media reporting on the movement has been shockingly incompetent. Instead of reporting aggressively on the movement’s flaws, reporters chose appalling cheerleading. Some of them went so far as to literally lock arms and join the movement they were supposed to be reporting on.
In doing so, these reckless and incompetent reporters — the worst of whom was surely Julia Ioffe of the New Yorker — actually helped Putin consolidate his power. The helped the movement to ignore its life-threatening faults and therefore helped the movement to avoid focusing on and reforming them. They made the movement weaker, not stronger, and ultimately helped kill it.
But the biggest problem, of course, was Navalny himself. A perusal of his juvenile Twitter statements, perpetually laced with utterances like “OMFG!“, clearly shows what should have been obvious to all from the start: This man is no King or Mandela or Ghandi. He has no political agenda and neither he nor anyone around him is capable of doing the hard work necessary to create and sustain a political party. All Navalny was capable of doing was creating a small cult of personality on the Internet and bringing them out into the streets for a lark. Soon they got bored, and went home.