Vladimir Putin, who is said to be one of the fiercest Russian leaders, had unusual birthday celebrations this year, 2017. On Saturday (Putin’s birthday), thousands of protestors gathered at Pushkin Square in central Moscow, demanding lawyer, Alexei Navalny be allowed to contest 2019 Presidential elections. Vladimir Putin’s competitor, Alexei Navalny, currently faces embezzlement charges which were slapped on him earlier this year. According to reports, the degrading economy of Russia and with corruption gripping the country’s spine seems to have irked the people to seek a new leader.

Vladimir Putin, who enjoys martial arts, ice skiing, ice hockey, and many more hobbies, also shares a huge love for some wild beasts like Amur tiger, white whale, polar bear and snow leopards. However, one of the strongest world leaders, who turned 65 this year, is said to be scared of a 41-year-old lawyer Alexei Navalny. The lawyer, who dared to take a stand against Putin, is said to be the ‘best hope’ bringing liberalisation in Putin ruled Russia.

Lawyer Alexei Navalny became the voice of the people after his 2008 blogs exposed the brewing corruption in Russia’s state-owned enterprises. As the time passed, Navalny earned a number of followers from across the globe, mostly youth. Alexei Navalny’s vision for a new Russia — with neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor his party — was the one which helped him gain his popularity among the younger section of the society.

With Navalny’s sky-high popularity and the continuing support of thousands, Vladimir Putin is said to be feeling the heat. According to reports, after graduating from People’s Friendship University, Navalny joined Yabloco. That time, Yabloco, a political party, was comprised of mostly youngsters. They were said to be sharing a penchant for liberal democracy and advocated closer ties with the United States and the European Union (EU).

However, Yabloco, wasn’t the solution, but surely a close one. There were many problems faced by the Party like sometimes it used to lack in funding. Later, it was boxed in and caged by the establishment loyal to Kremlin, and after that its leaders were also not allowed to contest elections.

Even though starting his political career at an early age, Navalny got his first political debut in 2004, but it was only in 2011that he became a national figure. In 2011, when elections were held, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia claimed 77% of votes. As the reports of the counting neared, reports claimed that Russian authorities barged into the polling booths dismissing all the independent observers. As the reports got out, media alleged fraud and thousands of the people took top streets to mark their protests.

To cut the long story short, Alexei Navalny is said to be left devoid of his desire for power. Just like other politicians, Navalny claims that only he can save Russia from corruption and other ills. According to NYT, Navalny ‘s closest staff was hired by his Anti-Corruption Foundation staff. Apart from being more of a boss than a follower, Alexei Navalny is said to be a man of strong convictions.

What provoked him to take a stand against the government was the control of the Russian government over its economy and also on the media. Putting the blame of Russia’s downfall on corruption, Navalny aims to liberalise Russia’s economy. Targeting Vladimir Putin’s ruling, Alexei Navalny says that he is not a fan of the leader as he has no interest on expanding the country’s influential sphere. If Navalny ever gets to the throne, his main aim would be introducing fair economic system and abolishment of corruption.

With the first round of 2018 Russian presidential election taking place on March 18, 2018, what’s anticipated from this Presidential election is, will Russia get a new fate? Or will things fall in place for Vladimir Putin just like the instances in the past?

First Published | 12 October 2017 2:30 PM
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