Alexey Navalny’s aide says his survival may depend on Vladimir Putin’s worth

Alexey Navalny’s survival may depend on his worth Vladimir Putin As a future bargaining chip, his key aide warned that the opposition leader’s health was at risk after being forced into indefinite solitary confinement.

Leonid Volkov, speaking on a visit to London, said Navalny had lost access to his family following the isolation decision by Russian authorities last week and was placed in permanent detention in an “8 by 12 feet” cell.

Only Navalny’s lawyers were allowed into his prison colony on weekdays, and even then, Volkov said, “they are not allowed to visit him; They can only speak to him through an opaque glass”, meaning they cannot determine his physical condition.

The politician’s aide said it was felt that Navalny had previously enjoyed some degree of protection because he could regularly get his message out from inside prison and therefore maintain his profile inside and outside Russia.

Aides maintain a Twitter feed that includes Navalny’s communications with his lawyers, but they worry that it may become rare, or that his strength may falter and he gradually fade from public attention.

“Now the situation is, I must admit, very bad, because now his communication with the outside world is very limited, and his health is at risk and his physical condition may worsen,” Volkov said. “We have to keep ” Talking about Navalny.

Navalny’s supporters believed that Putin would not want the opposition leader to die violently in prison, as the Russian president would be blamed. “With the world watching, he was kind of safe,” Ally said.

but the invasion of ukraine In February, his thinking had changed. “Our assessment of how paranoid Putin really is was wrong,” Volkov warned, as it was clear the Russian leader “doesn’t care about the international reaction, about the sanctions”.

Yet, despite this, the chief adviser said he hoped Navalny could ultimately survive because of his value to the Russian president in any final talks to end the war in Ukraine.

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Putin is clearly out of touch with reality very much, but even he thinks about possible future scenarios. Navalny is a potential bargaining chip in such circumstances. It may even be important,” Volkov said.

Leonid Volkov with Yulia Navalnaya, wife of Alexey Navalny, at the European Parliament in September
Leonid Volkov with Yulia Navalnaya, wife of Alexey Navalny, at the European Parliament in September.
Photograph: Stephanie Lecock/EPA

Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, Navalny was first jailed in February 2021 after being detained a month before his return from Germany, where he was recovering after an attempt on his life.

Navalny said Russia’s FSB spy agency had tried to assassinate Navalny by injecting nerve agent Novichok on his “inner seam”. the underpants of the leader of the opposition, He collapsed on a flight in Russia after wearing them and was treated in Germany before eventually deciding to return home.

Since he was first imprisoned, Navalny’s prison term was extended, and then in the summer he was transferred to a maximum security penal colony. He was kept in solitary confinement for 15 days until his isolation was made permanent last week.

The aide said it was right that Navalny decided to return from Germany. “He didn’t want to be another like the former politician in exile,” Volkov argued, adding that “you have to be in the country” to be an active politician in Russia. “We always knew he would be back. It was never a topic of discussion.

Volkov, based in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, is Navalny’s chief of staff and the politician’s chief executive officer. Anti Corruption Foundation, He was a key aide during Navalny’s 2018 presidential campaign and has been calling for more sanctions against Russia for helping end the war in Ukraine.

He was in the UK to meet with the Foreign Office to press for economic sanctions on London 6,700 second-tier Russian leaders including politicians, officials and thinkers. Volkov said he believes trade restrictions involving economic zones have reached their limits and need to be changed.

“Europe is stuck, they can’t impose any more regional sanctions, because every other regional sanctions will lead to something really very necessary [to a particular country]He quoted quoting Belgian reluctance to support sanctions on diamonds, and Greek concern About further Russian oil sanctions.

Volkov said approving second-class individuals was an option that would harm Russia’s broad leadership, but not Western economies. “Personal perceptions can make it painful for Putin. They don’t increase gas and electricity prices.

He said that British support was particularly helpful because “London accounts for more than 50% if not 80% of the stash of money stolen from Russian taxpayers”, and Volkov was supported by some backbench Conservatives such as Bob Seeley, all Speakers of Parliament. Is supported by – Party Group on Russia.

At the same time, Volkov argued that the sanctions could easily be reversed if the targeted person defected to Putin: “What we suggest is to sanction a lot more people, but to give them a choice, okay. There is a way, condemn the war, break your ties with Putin, leave the country, stop working for him.

As far as the progress of the war goes, Volkov fears that it will be hard for Kyiv to maintain its recent success on the battlefield as 300,000 organized Russian troops dig in – which means further economic sanctions and more may be important.

“It is not so clear” what will happen after the retreat from Kherson, Volkov said, “I am not so optimistic about Ukrainian military advances, although there is hope that they will be able to achieve something.”

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