Greene: The Kremlin has come to the conclusion that coercion is a better strategy than persuasion

PONARS Eurasia
04 Feb 2021

(Slate) “This is not a sentence against him, but against all of us.” That’s how Ilya Klishin, a prominent Russian former journalist, described a Moscow court’s ruling yesterday sentencing opposition leader Alexei Navalny to prison for nearly three years. Though widely expected, it still sent shockwaves through the country’s politically engaged liberal class, drawing comparisons to the historic 2003 jailing of ex-oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Vladimir Putin’s chief opponent. Hundreds of Muscovites hit the streets late Tuesday to protest the ruling, but the overwhelming presence of riot police turned downtown into a virtual gauntlet. More than 1,000 people were arrested.

The stakes have never been higher for Russia’s already badly beleaguered opposition—nor has the government’s room for compromise been narrower. “The Kremlin,” says Sam Greene, director of the Russia Institute at King’s College London, “has come to the conclusion that coercion is a better strategy for them than persuasion.” [...]

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