Russian authorities this week released opposition leader and top Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny from jail, where he spent 15 days after leading massive anti-corruption protests against Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The rallies in Moscow and across the country are part of a growing movement demanding changes in power.
Medvedev’s critics accuse him of using his position to acquire a massive amount of wealth. Navalny laid out what he says is evidence against the prime minister in a YouTube video that has been viewed more than 18 million times. The nearly hour-long video pokes fun at Medvedev’s penchant for online shopping, especially high-priced sneakers.
Medvedev has called the corruption claims “malarkey”.
The prime minister is not Navalny’s only target. The opposition leader plans to run against President Vladimir Putin in the 2018 elections. Navalny’s opposition party is not registered but has a lot of supporters.
Roman Dobrakhotov, editor-in-chief of the Russian news site The Insider, attributes Navalny’s support to the Internet.
“He’s the most popular person on Russian Internet,” Dobraktov told The Stream ahead of his appearance on the programme. “Many protesters are young and the main users of Russian Internet, and therefore less influenced by propaganda because they don’t watch TV.”
Although Putin has remained mostly tight-lipped about Navalny and his corruption claims against the prime minister, he has acknowledged there is a need to address corruption inside the Kremlin.
Now that Navalny is free, what direction will the protests take, and how will Putin and the Kremlin respond?
In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Member of Russian Parliament
Maria Snegovaya @MSnegovaya
PhD Candidate, Columbia University
What do you think are the main factors driving opposition protests in Russia? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.