Tens of Thousands Protest across Russia, Demand Navalny’s Release

The regime of Vladimir Putin ordered the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in a rushed jailhouse hearing after his return to Russia, then “found” it had the right to hold him for at least 30 days. The political crackdown against an anti-corruption campaigner Putin’s security forces attempted to assassinate has sparked outrage across Russia and around the world.

In a defiant show of resistance and independence, more than 100,00 have joined protests in more than 70 cities across Russia, demanding Navalny’s immediate release. Candidates supported by Navalny’s movement have been among the only non-loyalist candidates to win elected office in Russia in recent years. Putin is reportedly so afraid of the influence Navalny has built with the Russian people that he refuses to mention his name.

Navalny has reached people across Russia with his anti-corruption campaign. Anger at his detention is so deep there was even a sizable protest in Yakutsk, where temperatures were -50°C (yes, 50 degrees below zero).

The Washington Post is reporting today that:

Saturday’s demonstrations came after a sweeping national crackdown in which police detained opposition activists and courts locked up Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, and another team member, Georgy Alburov, co-author of a bombshell viral YouTube video “Putin’s Palace — History of the World’s Largest Bribe.”


The video, posted Tuesday, alleging colossal corruption in the construction of a vast Black Sea palace for Putin, has been viewed more than 68 million times. The Kremlin denies any relationship between Putin and the palace.

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Courage in the face of tyranny puts Putin regime on the defensive

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.

Navalny arrested upon return to Russia

Russian anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny—a popular political opponent of Vladimir Putin’s regime—returned to Russia today, months after he was poisoned in an attempted assassination. Navalny narrowly escaped assassination after Russian operatives lined his underwear with the lethal nerve agent Novichok.

When he fell ill, his plane landed, he was evacuated to hospital, and then sent on to Germany for treatment. Investigators in Germany determined he was poisoned with Novichok, a banned Russian nerve agent.

Today, Navalny returned to his Russia. His plane was diverted when its intended destination airport was abruptly closed to incoming air traffic. Upon arrival, he was reportedly taken into custody.

Axios reports:

Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Amnesty International is calling for his immediate release, as well as the release of any who went to greet him upon his return. Amnesty’s Moscow director is saying:

Navalny’s arrest is further evidence that Russian authorities are seeking to silence him. His detention only highlights the need to investigate his allegations that he was poisoned by state agents acting on orders from the highest levels.

International outcry over the attempted assassination of Mr. Navalny and the regime’s persecution of his Anti-Corruption campaign has been widespread. World leaders have denounced the poisoning and demanded a full and transparent investigation from Russian authorities, which has not materialized.

Time Capsule: 196 Hours to Inauguration

A note on our moment, for future reference:

At this writing, on a Tuesday morning, there are 196 hours till the Inauguration of Joe Biden and the end of the presidency of Donald Trump. That’s 8 days and 4 hours. While some allies of Trump resist calls for his removal, the entire nation is seriously discussing whether he should resign, be removed as unfit for office under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, or face his second impeachment, this time for Incitement of Insurrection.

The reason the debate is serious is that no one, not even his own staff, can be sure he is not a clear and present danger to the republic. He has been banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. An entire pro-Trump social media platform has been shut down by service providers, for helping to incite insurrection, yet Trump still tries to fan the flames of sedition with conspiracy theories.

Today, he will visit the border region of Texas, known to be rife with paramilitary extremist groups, to celebrate his deliberate torture of families seeking asylum from violence and deprivation. He is doing this, while the FBI reports paramilitary extremists are planning “armed protests” in all 50 states and will again seek to target the Capitol, in a siege planned for January 16-20.

We have, in fact, a rogue president, who appears unable or unwilling to honor his oath of office. There is, at this moment, real, widespread, even global, concern that the sitting President of the United States could engage in actual atrocities if allowed to remain in charge of the US government.

A minority of members of Congress are, today, deciding whether they will cast a vote to provide him with aid and comfort after he incited and set on foot a seditious mob, with instructions to attack the Capitol. It should be noted: Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibits them from providing him with that aid and comfort.

We must honor the sacred spaces of self-government

The Democracy Witness project began as an affirmation of the rights of all people, everywhere, to enjoy self-determination and open government. The foundation for this publication’s work is the requirement that any government derive its just powers from the voluntary and informed consent of the governed.

Last week’s attack on the US Capitol by paramilitary insurrectionists, incited to violence by a rogue president and his corrupt allies, have caused us to refocus on the importance of treating as sacred the spaces where self-government plays out. The US Capitol is one such place—arguably the most open legislative body in the world, where any person can freely engage in good-faith policy discussion with elected officials and their staff.

Some legislators have full time staff devoted to answering correspondence from those they represent. Some offices will answer millions of pieces of correspondence per year. It is possible, in the United States, for ordinary people to fill the calendar of meetings and to contribute substantively to discussions on racial discrimination, police reform, taxation, economic development, education policy, healthcare access rights, environmental protection and climate action, and on matters of peace and security.

American democracy is not perfect, but it does allow everyone to play a role, if they wish to. The attack on the Capitol was an attempt to subvert the right of hundreds of millions of people to enjoy the fruits of open government. Nothing the attackers or their sympathizers say can change that fact.

We will be using the United States Capitol as a symbol for Democracy Witness, for the indefinite future, as a sign of respect for that highest of all principles of democratic process—that people working in good faith for the betterment of their communities and their fellow citizens have an absolute right to meet with and constructively inform those who represent them in the halls of government.

Democracy is about the demilitarization of the civic space. We call on all political actors everywhere to work peacefully, and constructively, for a society in which force can never displace reason, participatory process, or the full and equal protection of the laws.

This is why we have always loved sharing images of citizens gathering to meet with government in good faith, to talk policy, to build political will for a better future. There is joy, and real empowerment, in living your democracy that way. May it again be the norm in the weeks and months ahead, and when we overcome the scourge of COVID-19 that has kept so many so far from others.

Recording reveals complicity of Russian state in poisoning of Navalny

Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny appears to have identified at least one of his attackers.

The AP is reporting:

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Monday released a recording of a phone call he said he made to an alleged state security operative, who revealed some details of how the politician was supposedly poisoned and media identified as a member of a team that has reportedly trailed Navalny for years.

Read the full story here.

Hong Kong votes overwhelmingly for democracy

After months of mass pro-democracy demonstrations and sometimes violent crackdowns by police, the people of Hong Kong have voted overwhelmingly for pro-democracy candidates.

  • 71% of eligible voters turned out to vote, despite rumors of possible action by pro-Beijing forces to obstruct the voting.
  • Hong Kong’s Democratic Party won 90% of local council seats in the vote.
  • Pro-democracy candidates won 278 seats, while pro-Beijing candidates won only 42.

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In Defense of the Free Press & the Right to Know

There is a reason the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees the freedom of the press. By doing so, those who created the governing system for this democratic republic ensured that the right of the people to know what was being done in their name would remain paramount.

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Return the Children

Statement from the Geoversiv Foundation on the US administration’s ongoing process of forced family separation and child internment — Issued June 23, 2018

No society can be free, prosperous and secure, while power is used to terrorize, dehumanize, or detain vulnerable people on pretext or prejudice.

The Bill of Rights — one of the most necessary and transformational documents in world history — makes it unlawful for any agent of power in the United States to so mistreat the humanity of any person.

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Fear of Difference is Opposition to Democracy

The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. It is a nation that has wrestled with vicious undercurrents of racism and xenophobia, and has emerged ever more democratic, generally trending toward a more perfect union representing the foundational ideals that were, in the 18th century, so far out of reach, but so necessary as core aspirations. And over time, it is a nation that has become richer, stronger and more democratic, by getting closer to those foundational ideals.

In advocating for the most effective way to form a new democratic nation in Argentina, Juan Bautista Alberdi wrote that Argentina should follow the example of the United States and encourage major waves of immigration, because the resulting society, with a large population, with diverse backgrounds and a commitment to building something new, will make for a more sustainable and democratic republic.

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