Some political observers felt jailing Navalny could empower the opposition and make him into a martyr, reports Russias official RIA Novosti news agency. In the interim, Navalny ran in the high profile Moscow mayoral race where he won a solid and some say legitimizing 27 percent of the vote against a Putin-allied incumbent. His campaign touched on widespread corruption under President Putin and anti-migrant sentiments , reports Agence France-Presse. Since the court today did not overturn Mr. Navalnys guilty verdict, he is unable to run for public office until his suspended sentence is fulfilled. He has expressed interest in running for president in 2018. The suspension of the sentence Wednesday suggested a willingness of the Kremlin to accept the trade-off in greater legitimacy for the political system here in exchange for tolerating Mr. Navalnys often stinging criticism of Mr. Putin, reports The New York Times. Reuters notes that if he had been jailed today, street protests could have exploded once again and it would have invited more international attention and criticism of the rule of law and democracy in Russia. The Christian Science Monitors Russia correspondent, Fred Weir, reported in July that when asked Do you think that the trial of Alexei Navalny is the result of his political activities and his opposition views? nearly 60 percent of Russian respondents answered “yes,” while just under 20 percent said “no.” Increasing numbers of people insist that they have no faith in Russia’s courts , nor in the law enforcement bodies that choose which investigations to pursue and what evidence to admit, Mr. Weir wrote. They include US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul , who issued a distinctly undiplomatic Tweet after hearing of the [July 18, 2013] verdict: “We are deeply disappointed in the conviction of @Navalny and the apparent political motivations in this trial.” Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev , who has repeatedly lambasted Mr. Putin for hijacking Russia’s democratic experiment, posted a comment on his foundation’s websitecontending that the conviction of Navalny “is proof that we do not have independent courts” in Russia. The key reason that many long-term observers of Russia have arrived at this conclusion is that Navalny, who is one of Russia’s best-known opposition figures due to his highly-effective anticorruption blogging , is far from the only anti-Kremlin politician to have been targeted with elaborate criminal charges. A string of criminal cases have been brought against Navalny in recent months, a move AFP describes as resembling an attempt to neutralise an opposition figure seen as a potential national force. Navalny isnt alone.
The extraordinary offer was made by Russia to New Zealand in 1993, a new book has claimed. After the collapse of the Soviet Union , Russia was struggling to pay the $100 million it owed New Zealand for a range of imported dairy products, Guardian reported. In a meeting with Russian officials to chalk out payment terms, Jim Bolger, then New Zealand prime minister, was left “absolutely stunned” to be offered a nuclear submarine and two MiG fighter jets in lieu of money, according to Clive Lind, the author of the book, ” Till the Cows Came Home”. Lind, who interviewed Bolger and former New Zealand Dairy Board chairman Dryden Spring, who was also present at the meeting, said the offer had been made by Alexander Shokhin, then deputy prime minister of Russia. “The Russians were trying to come up with lines of credit before Shokhin mentioned there were other funding arrangements,” Lind was quoted by the daily as saying. “He pointed out that MiG jets were highly desirable and that they also had surplus tanks to offer. Jim Bolger had to explain that he wasn’t in the market for second-hand tanks,” Lind added. Perhaps most remarkably, Shokhin then offered a nuclear submarine to wipe out Russia’s debt. Noting that New Zealand was a staunchly non-nuclear-powered country, he suggested hooking the vessel up to the national grid and using it as a power plant for a coastal city, the report said. “Bolger recalled the reaction he would have got if he returned to a nuclear-free New Zealand and told people that he hadn’t got any money for them but had secured a nuclear submarine instead,” Lind said. “It simply wasn’t going to fly.” After politely declining the offer of the military equipment, New Zealand managed to secure a number of periodic payments from Russia, totalling about $30 million less than a third of the total debt.
Russia begins investigation into attack on Dutch diplomat in home
16 (UPI) — A criminal investigation started Wednesday into an attack on a Dutch diplomat who was bound and assaulted in his Moscow apartment, Russian authorities said. Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement the assailants forced their way into the diplomat’s home Tuesday evening, shoved him to the floor and tied him up before ransacking the apartment, RIA Novosti reported. While officials have not identified the diplomat, the Russian tabloid website Life News identified him as Onno Elderenbosch, 60. Life News also reported the attackers didn’t steal anything but drew a pink heart on a mirror and wrote ‘LGBT’ beneath it. The incident is likely to exacerbate relations between Russia and Netherlands, RIA Novosti said. Relations were already frayed because of the brief detention of a Russian diplomat in The Hague earlier this month, for which the Netherlands apologized, and Russia’s seizure of a Greenpeace ship sailing under a Dutch flag in the Arctic Ocean and arrest of all 30 people aboard on piracy charges. Dutch foreign affairs minister, Frans Timmermans, summoned the Russian ambassador for an explanation, DutchNews.nl said. “Our people have to be able to do their jobs in safety and I want assurances that the Russian authorities will be responsible on this point,” Timmermans said on Facebook. Lawmakers from the D66 and the Labor parties used Twitter to call for the suspension of celebrations marking 400 years of diplomatic relations between Netherlands and Russia, DutchNews.nl said. “If it was up to me, the Netherlands-Russia year is ‘on hold,'” Labor lawmaker Michiel Servaes posted. “First clarity and guarantees for the safety of Dutch diplomats.” King Willem-Alexander is to be in Moscow for a state visit Nov. 9 to conclude the year-long event. 2013 United Press International, Inc.