It would be tempting to think of Alexei Navalny’s death as a sad event in a far-off place. But are we really so far away? Navalny, the most high-profile critic of Vladimir Putin in Russia, was harassed, poisoned, and jailed repeatedly, the final time at a penal colony north of the Arctic Circle, where he died on February 16.
In the United States of America, we have a former president and current presidential candidate who has promised to be a dictator if he resumes the office of President. (To be precise, he has promised to be a “dictator for a day,” but the mandates he has promised to impose on that day would last indefinitely.) He has promised to make the lives of his political enemies miserable and prosecute the current President of the United States, and to overhaul the Department of Justice, turning it into a tool of political revenge.
Since 2015, he has made violence and threats a common currency, including at his rallies, where he goads his followers into lashing out at others. Following his rally on January 6, 2021, attendees invaded the United States Capitol, resulting in injuries and loss of life, all with the agenda of overturning a free and fair election. He also once said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing any votes, as an illustration of his invulnerability and popularity.
This acolyte of Putin, by his own admission, said he would encourage Russia to “to do whatever the hell they want” to NATO countries that do not pay their “dues” to NATO. And as his efforts to thwart Ukraine aid benefits the invading Putin while weakening Ukrainian military capacity, the question must be asked: how far away are we from the brutality of Vladimir Putin and the fate of Alexei Navalny in far-off Russia?
Written by Estelle H. Rogers
Retired Voting Rights Attorney
LDAD Board Member