Central newspapers continue paying special attention to the case of oppositionist Alexei Navalny, who was at first sentenced to a five-year imprisonment for embezzlement, and later released before the verdict comes into the legal force against application from prosecution. On Saturday, supporters met Navalny, released from Kirov’s custody, at Moscow’s railway station as a hero. He told the allies that he would participate in the election of Moscow’s mayor. Meanwhile, the Investigative Committee initiated two criminal proceedings after an non-authorised rally in support of the oppositionist, which took place on Thursday.
The Vedomosti writes that the application asking to change the restriction measure for Navalny for the obligation not to leave the country, so that not to interfere in Navalny’s right to have an equal access to the electorate, came from the very prosecutor Sergei Bogdanov, who earlier applied for his arrest at the court.
“The law does not regulate a release for a sentenced person: there is no restraint, it is a stage of executing a verdict, and the proceedings do not say about a possible delay in it,” lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov said. “A senseless verdict, and a release, which is not less senseless,” the newspaper quoted the lawyer as saying. “The judicial power has obeyed the political one.”
“This story has demonstrated the authorities do not have a single view on how to deal with Navalny,” political analyst and former official of the presidential administration Alexei Chesnakov said.
The decision to release Navalny after having just announced the verdict, which was done as if under the pressure from the streets, after an unauthorised mass rally, is a big mistake, the Vedomosti reports as saying a person close to Sergei Sobyanin’s headquarters. “The protesting electorate is warmed up and brought together, now may go to election stations not to choose a mayor, but to vote for the democracy,” the source said.
In case of a successful campaign and the electorate’s support of Mikhail Prokhorov (20 percent in Moscow at the presidential election), Navalny may gain more votes, than Prokhorov did, and may not allow Sobyanin become a winner at the first round, the source told the newspaper.
The history about the verdict, the arrest and release may cause long-term trends in the Russian domestic policy, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The power has turned into a hostage under the investigation into the Kirovles case and Judge Sergei Blinov: from now on any decision on Navalny will add popularity to the oppositionist, the newspaper is sure. In future he may argue as contradicting the constitution norm, which prevents former convicted from participating in the political life.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta says Navalny’s participation or not in the election will result from a decision the Kremlin has made. What is clear is Navalny’s placement to the custody, as well as the verdict’s coming into the legal force, affects not only the oppositionist, but the power, too. This would seem to be even falser than the entire process on the Kirovles case, the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, the Novye Izvestia reports, the presidential council on human rights is going to organise an expertise of Alexei Navalny’s case. Human rights experts have decided to have an expertise similar to the one on the second case of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev back in 2010-2011. However, the council will begin the expertise only as Navalny’s verdict comes into the legal force.
However, a member of the council, head of the AGORA inter-regional association of human rights organizations Pavel Chikov is sure it may be possible to begin the expertise even earlier. In particular, he has supported organization of an expertise of the kind back in January of the current year. But, he said, whatever results may be voiced only as the verdict comes into the legal force. “It is important for obvious reasons, so that not to be accused in pressing the court,” Chikov said.
The Investigative Committee and the Moscow police opened criminal cases on the unauthorized “people’s gathering” to support Moscow’s mayoral candidate oppositionist Alexei Navalny, the Kommersant writes. First one - on use of force against a policeman, the second one - on vandalism. Investigators said the protesters, who glued posters onto the State Duma’s walls and who left dirty-language insctiptions there, have desecrated the building. The case does not contain any suspects as yet, but hundreds may be brought to criminal responsibility. Experts say, earlier accusations of the kind were not used to participants in mass protests, and share the view that by this approach the power is trying to frighten rally participants.
Over the entire rally, the oppositionist’s allies were leaving on the State Duma’s walls stickers, which read “Navalny:” the stickers covered the building’s ground floor and the security office by the main entrance. Next to the stickers remained signs, made by markers, which contained dirty-language addresses to the deputies. The Investigative Committee considered the decorations as an act of group vandalism, where the maximum responsibility may be three years behind the bars.
Political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov, the Kommersant writes, is sure that the police during the “people’s assembly” did not use the force actively, as “by dispelling a rally related to the upcoming mayoral election in Moscow could have affected the capital city’s authorities.” He thinks the criminal cases against the protesters is an attempt to punish them post factum. However, Vinogradov said, “people, when going into streets, are sure that mass rallies are of use, thus using goofy - from the legal point of view - measures cannot take them from the streets.”
Opposition’s Coordinating Council suffers a crisis
Another meeting of the opposition’s Coordinating Council took place on Saturday. However, the meeting actually failed due to a lack of the quorum. The agenda was to discuss preparations for elections to the new council. Experts say, the Coordinating council may shift to Alexei Navalny’s election headquarters.
The meeting on Saturday was practically failed due to the absence there of key opposing politicians - Gennady and Dmitry Gudkov, Boris Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin and Alexei Navalny, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports. The Coordinating Council explained their absence by involvement in preparations for elections. Those who attended the meeting, discussed cooperation with the State Duma and preparations for the new elections to the Coordinating Council. Experts say they may never happen and regret that informally for the term of coming two months the Coordinating Council may shift to Navalny’s election headquarters, thus causing lack of interest to it from other politicians.
The newspaper stresses that earlier observers called as unsuccessful those latest actions, which were organsied by the Coordinating Council.
Political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky, who was among the first to quit the council, says the Coordinating Council, which initially was supposed to be the centre of the protest movement, has not been fulfilling its functions: “It has developed into the opposition’s own parliament, where a consensus is tough to reach. No wonder, Boris Nemtsov and Petr Tsarkov announced earlier about organization of a centre for the protest movement, which would be different from the Coordinating Council; they sort of stepped aside.”
Piontkovsky stresses, from the very beginning the body united people with opposite objective, where some of them wanted only to influence the power, and the other part, on the contrary, demanded fighting it: “As headquarters to organize protests, the Coordinating Council does not exist any longer. And I have strong suspicions the elections postponed from October to November, as it was announced on Saturday, may be not the end to it. I do not rule out, the elections may not happen at all.”
“Fighting for leadership affects effectiveness of the non-system opposition,” Deputy President of the Centre for Political Technologies Rostislav Turovsky said. Currently, he said, the situation is such that Alexei Navalny at the council truly has more authority than his other colleague, though not everyone is happy about it: “Even RPR-PARNAS, while nominating him a mayoral candidate, demonstrated major inner contradictions.”
Head of the Moscow branch of People’s Alliance, Nikolai Lyaskin, told the RBC Daily that Alexei Navalny’s allies have different views on the Coordinating Council. Some of them would want to run for membership in it, others - not. A member of Solidarnost - Ilya Yashin told the newspaper that before the official announcement of the second election he would not be able to say whether he would run for it. A candidate for governor of the Moscow region Gennady Gudkov would like to be re-elected to the Coordinating Council, but believes it necessary to raise a lot effectiveness of the Council’s work on decisions made.