The return of Alexei Navalny to Russia, after operatives apparently working for Vladimir Putin poisoned him with a military-grade neurotoxin, is an act of courage beyond anything Russia’s president has ever shown. Navalny is the leader of Russia’s leading anti-corruption effort, so Putin’s cruel opposition to his work speaks volumes about the corrupt and unaccountable nature of his regime.
If Putin had anything like the courage, principle, or patriotism Navalny has shown, he would immediately release him, and all who support him, and he would call for open elections to be monitored by independent foreign election observers, under an absolute prohibition on using any powers of the state to assist his own campaign.
The half-baked charges Putin’s regime uses to keep its critics from mounting strong national campaigns is evidence of the regime’s unfitness to govern, and of its structural frailty. That the regime also murders those it cannot sideline or silence is proof it operates outside any justifiable legal mandate and works actively against—not for—the interests of the Russian people.