We are disappointed and surprised by the ludicrously one-sided nature of the Western mainstream news coverage of Alexei Navalny. He has many virtues, and he’s vastly preferable to Vladimir Putin, but he’s far from perfect and certainly very far from being the best Russia can hope for. Dishonest reporting about him does nobody any favors, least of all Navalny, who is prevented from being forced to confront his own weaknesses and reform.
For a more complete picture of Navalny, two recent pieces from Global Voices are required reading. They highlight Navalny’s immaturity, his racism and the surprising lack of difference between Navalny and incumbent Moscow Mayor Sobyanin. They also comment on the Chirikova blog post, cited below.
Here are three poorly-reported items from the Russian blogosphere (Russian-language links) as examples:
Navalny votes in favor of “legitimate protest against indigenous people” and complains about attempts to label this as “extremism.” In other words, using euphemisms, Navalny votes in favor of racism.
Opposition figure Vladimir Milov chastises Navalny for suggesting that street protests caused his recent release from prison. No thinking person can believe this was the case; the Kremlin clearly wanted Navalny to be free to run for mayor so it could defeat him.
(3) Ошибка кандидата
Opposition figure Yevgenia Chirikova, Russia’s leading environmentalist, chastises the Navalny campaign for having no environmental plank in its platform. (There is also no plank for women’s rights or minority race rights — but she doesn’t mention that). She complains that when she raised this issue she was mercilessly attacked by Navalny’s minions as a traitor to his movement.