Alexey Navalny says Russia must transform after Putin’s war


Imprisoned Russian dissident Alexey Navalny says the only way his country can avoid an “endless cycle of imperial authoritarianism” is to become a parliamentary democracy.

Writing in the Washington Post, Navalny said that while Western nations have rightly proclaimed the importance of Ukraine’s independence and preventing Russia from winning the war in Ukraine, they need to start thinking about what Russia will look like when the fighting is over.

“The strategy should be that Russia and its government naturally, without constraint, do not want to start wars and do not find them attractive,” Navalny wrote in an essay provided to The Post by his legal team. He is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence in a penal colony.

“The question of post-war Russia should become the central issue of those fighting for peace, and not just another element. No long-term goal can be achieved without a plan that stops creating the sources of problems,” Navalny wrote. “Russia must stop being a driver of aggression and instability.”

Navalny is the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his dissent almost cost him his life.

Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020, an attack that several Western officials and Navalny himself blamed on the Kremlin. Russia has denied any involvement.

After a five-month stay in Germany recuperating from Novichok poisoning, Navalny returned to Moscow last year and was promptly arrested for violating probation from a 2014 case. Earlier this year, Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison for what he said was politically motivated fraud.

Navalny said in his essay, published on the day Putin announced Russia would annex a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, that the war in Ukraine – like the conflict before it – has helped those in power in Moscow.

“Over the past 23 years, the Russian elite has learned rules that have never failed: war is less expensive, it solves all domestic political problems, it increases public approval by leaps and bounds, it does not particularly harm the economy, and most importantly – the winners are not held accountable. ”, wrote Navalny.

The solution, Navalny says, is to adopt a democratic government that decentralizes power, similar to what the Baltic states have used.

“The threat to the peace and stability of Europe is aggressive imperial authoritarianism, which Russia has continuously inflicted on itself,” Navalny said. “Post-war Russia, like post-Putin Russia, will be doomed to be belligerent and Putinist again. This is inevitable as long as the current form of development of the country is maintained. Only a parliamentary republic can prevent this.”