Compressed into a two-minute soundbite, the story of Alexei Navalny and the recent protests that have erupted across Russia seems simple enough. The Russian opposition figure who recently survived an attempt on his life — an alleged poisoning delivered via Novichok-laced pants — was arrested and convicted of breaching his bail conditions in a process that can be fairly described as unjust. In response, his supporters took to the streets across the country in protest.
Ask a Russian, like Katya Kazbek, and they will tell you something different: things are way more complicated than they seem. Katya is a writer, translator and the editor-in-chief of arts and culture magazine Supamodu.com who today lives in New York by way of Moscow and Krasnodar Krai in the North Caucuses. In an effort to give some nuance to Navalny and what has been happening overseas, they recently put together a widely shared Twitter thread that served as a highlight reel of Navalny’s political career — and the picture it painted was not pretty. Having read this, I contacted them to ask more about a man whose treatment has been unjust, but who — it turns out — is no hero.