The accusation levelled today at Alexei Navalny is an extremely telling example of how the Russian authorities are fighting with the opposition in the broad sense of the word. No one doubts that Navalny is being persecuted for his political activity. By his participation in activities of the opposition and organization of protests and by his anti-corruption investigations, Alexei has scared the authorities. Yet, as we see, formally, the charge needed to neutralize Navalny has been brought under an “economic” article, which fact will later make it possible to deny the political nature of repression and talk about an “ordinary criminal act.”
The authorities use this simple trick every time when the need arises to punish political opponents or simply people who disagree with this or that aspect of what is happening in the country. There are no articles in the Russian criminal code that make a person liable for political views and activity. For those purposes, the Russian justice system, which has turned into an appendage of the executive branch of government, uses economic elements of crime. It is important to realize that and remember about that when we face a new high-profile economic case. In this sense, the Navalny case is a good example where utter absurdity of charges clearly displays the mechanism of unlawful use of justice in settling accounts in politics and competition.