Petrov: Navalny has ruined Putin’s gambit

PONARS Eurasia
07 Feb 2021

(Wall Street Journal) MOSCOW—The jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny last month galvanized the biggest popular protests in Russia in nearly a decade, as his supporters were joined across the country by average Russians upset with falling living standards and shrinking political freedoms.

But Mr. Navalny’s allies have scrapped further protests following the detention of more than 6,000 in the recent demonstrations as well as police violence against the protesters—factors that could make it more difficult to keep mobilizing followers. [...]

The explosion of public anger against the Kremlin has come at a time when Mr. Putin is pondering his own political future... “The Kremlin was hoping for the support of the people to make this transition as easy as possible,” said Nikolai Petrov, senior research fellow at Chatham House, a think tank. “Navalny has ruined Putin’s gambit.” [...]

“The resources at the disposal of the Kremlin and the opposition are totally unequal, and so Navalny’s people must use every advantage they have to outplay the Kremlin,” Mr. Petrov said. [...]

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