He is seen as the figurehead for Russia’s small, dispirited and disjointed opposition, Sky’s Diana Magnay writes.
It should come as no surprise that no sooner does Alexei Navalny recover the ability to speak than, he lets it be known he will be returning to Russia.
He has made it his life’s work to expose the corrupt underpinnings of the Russian state and to alert the Russian people to how short-changed they are democratically.
He has not let jail, personal attacks, and constant raids on his anti-corruption foundation get in the way – he is clearly not willing to let a novichok nerve agent attack deter him either.
It’s his tenacity and charisma which has, in the past, brought tens of thousands to the streets in cities across the country. It also inspires the work of his anti-corruption foundation and many satellite offices.
Without him, there is no obvious replacement in terms of a figurehead for Russia’s small, dispirited and disjointed opposition.
That said, there has been remarkably little public outcry around his poisoning.
It may be for a variety of reasons. Because he survived, because poisonings are almost accepted as de rigeur for state enemies.
Navalny was always perceived as living on borrowed time because as per state TV, which so many still watch, he is just another “blogger”.
But it also speaks to the political despondency in Russia – the weary resignation around the status-quo.
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Vladimir Putin has rejigged the constitution to allow himself to stay in power through until 2036 should he so choose. “Russia without Putin” – a common refrain at opposition rallies – just got delayed another decade.
It takes a remarkable energy and spirit to cut through that kind of apathy. Mr Navalny has it and the Kremlin recognises it.
That’s why even if they can’t bring themselves to speak his name, he’ll stay right at the top of their watch-list.