Crimean stumbling block for Alexei

In the world of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is often considered as the only real alternative to Vladimir Putin. Often, the admiration for young and cute lawyer borders on the idea of a Russian Savior. Often in the foreign media there is an opinion about what Navalny has the potential to become President, who will lead the Russian people towards democracy. But whether Navalny is in fact such a democratic politician, what it presents to Western society?

Alexei Navalny, if we leave aside his controversial nationalist views, which he calls an error of youth, started out as a blogger. He wrote about corruption in the country. Gradually the huge financial support he has become one of the leading figures of the Russian opposition. The campaign conducted by his organization “the Fund of struggle against corruption” and to expose corruption scams in the environment, a senior government leaders, became an Internet hit in Russia. Also to the victories of the Bulk should be considered that in recent years he, one of the few opposition failed to take to the streets before an unprecedented number of people.

Success Bulk is based on the message to the Russians that in their low standard of living to blame for the corruption of politicians. The country’s leadership is stealing, so is no money for pensions, hospital construction and repair of broken roads. This program has the potential to affect large segments of Russian society, which in 2018 will be to choose the President of the country.

The arrow on the balance of Russian politics

And here comes the stumbling block. Navalny presents himself as a politician of the “Western” sense, however, future voters support, but rather, a policy of a strong hand of the current President and including the cogency of the status of annexed Crimea. Today the Ukrainian question is most pressing topic of Russian politics and able in a moment to deny support even the most popular Politika from all popular. In this regard, the presidential candidate like Navalny should be especially careful, but he should try not to harm your reputation won in the West. So what is the position of the Bulk in the Crimean issue and that it would bring international politics, if he theoretically became the next President?

The ratio of Bulk to the Crimea like trying to sit on two chairs simultaneously. He tries to maintain the image of the liberal opposition, which is opposed to the illicit desire of Putin to expand the “Russian Empire.” But Navalny does not want to alienate future voters, most of whom supported annexation of the Crimea. Maneuvering between two opposing positions might even seem comical.

Immediately after the referendum held in Crimea in March 2014 under the watchful supervision of the Russian armed forces, Navalny joined the international protest and strongly condemned the fact of holding a referendum in similar terms: “I do not recognize results of the referendum in 2014, held in the Crimea. We need to organize a fair referendum on the Peninsula to learn, part of which country would be the inhabitants of the Crimea. The status of Crimea is difficult to determine, and this can lead to a deterioration of relations between Russia and the international community for years to come”. Navalny was not mistaken, Moscow is constantly criticized due to the annexation of the Peninsula, but the EU and the US imposed against Russia economic sanctions. Russian decision of the Crimean question were not appreciated by even the new President of the United States Donald trump, who has made it clear that he expects the return of Crimea to Ukraine.

But the cunning opposition continued to maneuver. Yes, the referendum was illegal, but the “Party of progress” can still take part in the elections in the Crimea. Similarly, the Bulk did not see anything wrong with that from time to time to come to the occupied Peninsula. And nevertheless, (to quote his words) “Crimea — is that a sausage sandwich, whether to have it here and there to return.” Navalny suggested to hold another referendum, but “not such as it was, normal.” “I think the results of this referendum we all assume about what could be. Here’s how to decide — decide,” — said Navalny.

The idea of the Bulk of the “fair referendum” that sounds great, but there are a couple of snags. First of all, from a legal point of view for the entire civilized world Crimea — territory of Ukraine. Therefore, any vote that organizes all Russia illegally. For a similar proposal said the leader of Crimean Tatars Mustafa Dzhemilev, who was banned entry to the Crimea. By the way, after the annexation of the son Jemilev was arrested. Mustafa Cemil said: “In my opinion, this opposition nonsense in the head. He should probably know international law. The referendum on the status of certain territories in accordance with Ukrainian legislation are held throughout. If we talk about referendum, you first need to liberate the Crimea from the occupation, to return the Crimea to the jurisdiction of Ukraine. And there are already in compliance with the Ukrainian legislation, if we deem it necessary, we will be able to talk about the referendum”. Themselves the Crimean Tatars during the annexation openly took on the Ukrainian side are met with brutal repression. Thousands of Tatars had to flee from the Peninsula.

How to get (quickly and efficiently)

For four years the lives Crimea under Russian occupation, and the Kremlin, of course, is not sitting idly by. Large-scale propaganda became normal. However, much more dangerous than the change of the ethnic composition of the population of the Peninsula. According to civil society organizations at the end of 2016, the number of refugees reached 40 thousand. I had to leave mostly Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians. Russia tries to colonize the Peninsula with ethnic Russians, so there live thousands of Russian civil servants, especially military families. Of course, all check on patriotism, that is how these people are convinced that Crimea is Russian.

Recently Bulk again answered the question about Crimea: “I don’t see a way to solve the Crimean problem and do not believe that it can be resolved by the President Navalny, President Putin or any other President in the foreseeable future.” If this Bulk again repeated the words of a “fair referendum” and added that will ensure that in the referendum and in tripartite commissions with the EU on this issue involved the Ukraine.

The question is, in fact, the Bulk thinks of the Crimea, which is the subject of his presidential campaign, and that he was advised to speak to his advisors. Even if Navalny was firmly convinced that Russia acted illegally, he can’t afford to admit it openly before the people who mostly believe the opposite. But Navalny in the coming year will be to claim the role of their leader.

Even if the Bulk only the blind would argue that Crimea is part of Russia, actually wanting to begin the process of return of occupied Crimea to Ukraine immediately after taking the presidential position, is it a good idea? After all, the country behind the Kremlin walls 140 million citizens, most of whom are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt right to the Peninsula in the Black sea. Go Bulk on such a move, he likely would have put an end to his political career, not even having time to unpack suitcases at the presidential Palace. Like a hundred years ago aptly noted Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Vynnychenko, “Russian democracy ends where it begins Ukrainian question”.

The authors — members of the Eastern European club of the Philosophical faculty of Charles University.