Alexey Navalny: biography
Alexey Navalny is a famous social and political activist who fights against corruption in Russia. He is considered to be the symbol of the Russian non-system opposition. Navalny is the author of the most popular political Live Journal blog and the administrator of RosPil, the non-governmental organization aimed at struggle against corruption in the state procurement. Alexey Navalny’s biography is full of scandals and criminal cases where he was the main accused in grand theft and fraud. The population’s attitude toward the political figure of Navalny is ambiguous: some view him as a brave fighter for the truth and justice, others see him as an ordinary populist who tries to deceive the Russian people with his expressive opinion on the state institutes and political parties.
Alexey Anatolievich Navalny was born on June 4, 1976, in the military town Butyn, Moscow region. His parents Anatoly Ivanovich and Lyudmila Ivanovna were ordinary people who managed to become businesspersons and owners of the Kobyakovo basket-weaving factory during the democratic reforms. According to Alexey, his family is closely connected with Ukraine since many relatives lived there. In the course of time, voters and social network users frequently asked Alexey Anatolievich about his position on the Ukraine conflict and the events that took place in the neighboring country in the late 2013-early 2014. Navalny presented his conclusions and views on the changes in Kiev in his Live Journal blog.
The future opposition member spent his school years in the military village Kalininets where he finished school in 1993. After that, he moved to Moscow and entered the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, Institute of Law. In 1998, the young lawyer decided to extend his professional base and got into the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Finance and Economics Faculty. Simultaneously with his studies, Alexey worked as a lawyer in the Aeroflot bank and ST Group development company.
As Alexey received the second diploma, he continued his education and took a 6-months course at Yale University. He managed to get there thanks to the recommendations of Garry Kasparov, Sergei Guriev, and Yevgenia Albats who were famous Russian opposition members whose opinion was respected in the USA.
Career and business
Navalny started working when he was a student; his activities were only business-oriented at that period. In several years, he was the founder of a dozen zero-income companies that he would successfully sell in a while. This fact attracted critics’ attention: they suspected the would-be activist of fraud and schemes organization.
In 2008, Alexey Navalny got interested in invest activism and began to buy small stocks of shares in Transneft, Surgutneftegas, Gazprom Neft, Rosneft, VTB, and Sberbank. As soon as he would become a fully legitimate shareholder, he would demand to publish the information on these companies’ management actions since shareholders’ income depended on it. At that time, Navalny considered Gazprom his archenemy and even succeeded in opening a criminal case against one of the large corporation’s manager.
The business earnings gave the young lawyer the opportunity to live comfortably; along with these activities, Navalny was also engaged in politics.
The politician Navalny started his career in the democratic party “Yabloko” (“Apple”) where he took administrative positions until 2007 due to the assistance of his supporters: Nikita Belykh, Maria Gaidar, and Yevgenia Albats.
After Navalny was excluded from “Yabloko,” he co-founded the national-democratic movement “Narod” (“People”) and became an active member of the radical movement “Russky Marsh” (“Russian Marsh”).
In 2009, Alexey was elected as the adviser to Kirov's governor Nikita Belykh. He also headed the non-commercial organization “The Fund of Supporting Initiatives” organized by the leader of the Kirov’s regional administration.
Alexey Navalny frequently criticizes not only the current civil servants but also those related to the highest state positions. In particular, the audience remembers the debate that the opposition member and the 1990s reformer Anatoly Chubais had live on “The Straightforward Talk” with Ksenia Sobchak. The participants discussed only the actions of the state corporation “Rosnano” and its General Manager Chubais but also general problems in financing this company and the Russian science.
Gradually, Alexey Anatolievich became one of the Russian opposition leaders. After Boris Nemtsov was murdered, it is Navalny who is considered the main critics of the Russian authorities inside the country. Navalny accuses the Russian high-ranking executives of the murder of his political companion and friend: according to him, it was “the terrorist act that failed to achieve its goal.”
Moscow mayoral election
Soon, Navalny made a decision to become a Moscow Mayor. In 2013, he was registered as a candidate in Mosizberkom (Moscow Election Committee), but he could not win the election with his 27% of votes – this figure did not give him a chance to become the capital’s mayor.
Naturally, the election outcomes did not satisfy the opposition leader’s headquarters. Next day, it organized a meeting at Chistoprudny Boulevard in order to express the disagreement on the voting results. After the meeting, he led the unauthorized procession to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation. For this action, he was arrested by the police and sentenced to 15 days’ administrative detention.
By that moment, Navalny had already created his anti-corruption Internet sources RosPil, RosYama, and RosVybory. He also registered “The Anti-Corruption Foundation” that was supposed to create the image of an uncompromising anti-corruption activist and make his public image positive. However, Navalny was failing to reach this goal for a long time: many criminal cases involving him were being mentioned.
Arrest and criminal cases
Alexey Navalny’s criminal indictment began in 2011 when he was accused of property damage under false pretenses. As a result, the famous opposition member was sentenced to 5 years of prison in 2013, but the next day, he was set free on his own recognizance. Russian people and the international community believed the sentence was unjust and politically motivated. Even the Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his attitude toward the decision and called it “weird.” After the case was reviewed, the judge changed the punishment measure to the suspended sentence.
The second scandalous criminal case involving Navalny was the Yves Rocher case: Alexey and his brother Oleg were accused of embezzlement on a grand scale and legalizing the funds of the French company. Eventually, the suspended sentence of three and a half years was imposed on Alexey Anatolievich while his brother received the real sentence for the same term. The fellow defendant brothers were also fined (₽4.8 million).
The “Kirovles” case is another criminal case against Navalny. The criminal process investigating possible damage to the company lasted for years.
Despite these accusations, Navalny remained a leader for many Russian people, especially the Moscowites. Many believe he is a people’s political leader and his activities are useful for the Russian society and economy. In 2012, Navalny was the only Russian person in Time 100: The Most Influential People.
In 2011, Alexey Navalny established the non-commercial organization “The Anti-Corruption Foundation” that later became a large structure in Russia. The new organization united all Navalny’s projects; the social activist rejected various anonymous donations.
The founders of the new organization have gained the considerable experience in public money-raising as they worked on financing RosPil. The foundation employs the payment system “Yandex Money” and collects significant money so that the organization functions well. Besides, professional lawyers and economists are engaged in the company’s activities: their job is to identify illegal schemes in the sphere of the state procurement.
The leaders of the foundation have thoroughly determined the strategies of their action in various realms. The organization’s main task is to organize local situations where the state machine will have to face the public pressure. According to the founders, this foundation is capable of becoming an alternative to the existing system of the state control; however, it does not imply the state itself is being attacked because the participants are interested in the stability and longevity of the apparatus. The sweeping pressure on bureaucrats encourages internal changes throughout the whole country.
The foundation’s finances have always been the subject of interest of the authorities as well as other social activists and ordinary citizens. As the organization leaders claim, they have created a clear system of fund-raising thanks to which $300 thousand were collected and used. Navalny often mentioned that the foundation initially needed extensive public support since the flow of funds from various social groups proves the organization’s honesty and openness.
Ordinary people were interested in financing the organization: who was behind it? Many voters started asking this question and tried to learn more about Navalny’s activities. Some political forces openly call Alexey “the American spy” and accuse the foundation of foreign fund-raising.
Soon, the foundation presented several movies about the investigations. The documentary investigation “Chaika” provoked a public outcry: the creators of the movie informed about the new investigation of the Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika’s sons’ business and criminal connections. Other anti-corruption disclosures followed.
Navalny also kept people interested by his Twitter publications. For example, one of the posts informed that the Vice Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov’s asset manager purchased an entire story in an elite high-rise; this news caused strong feelings among people. The opposition member demanded this case investigation be carried out.
In March 2017, unauthorized meetings took place in many Russian regions. Thousands of people gathered at large squares of their cities and demanded to conduct an investigation of corruption in the high places.
The Navalny’s Foundation movie on the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s property caused the mass protests. Many Russian people were shocked to learn what the investigation had to tell them: one of the country’s most influential bureaucrats was the owner of the “secret empire” created by means of complex corruption schemes. According to Navalny, Medvedev has large funds and his close supporters control the receipt of funds in organizations. Dozens of millions were allegedly arriving in the accounts of such structures. This compromising material put the Russian society into a flutter.
People’s anger was supported by some deputies. In particular, Communist Party of the Russian Federation representatives demanded a court of inquiry be appointed to conduct a transparent investigation and check all the materials.
Navalny was arrested for interference with a police officer. On March 27, 2017, Tverskoy District Court of Moscow sentenced the opposition politician to 14-days imprisonment and imposed a fine – ₽20 thousand.
Earlier, Navalny requested permission to organize a meeting in the city center but the city authorities denied it and offered alternative grounds in Sokolniki and Lyublino Districts. However, the opposition members were not satisfied with these options.
Despite numerous criminal cases, the famous activist was eager to run for the presidency: in December 2016, he announced he was going to take part in the elections in 2018.
It was difficult to predict whether the opposition member could take part in the elections because he had the right to do so only after he had his conviction removed from the official records. Still, the activist did not worry much and opened an online registration of voters on his web-site. Thus, the politician decided to be a self-nominated candidate and confirm his intentions by Russian voters’ signatures.
In January 2017, Navalny said he considered corruption to be the main problem in Russia. In his opinion, it is the violation of the law in this sphere that prevented the country from developing – this idea was expressed during the debates with the Russian designer and blogger Artemy Lebedev on Dozhd (“Rain”) channel.
Navalny commented on his urge to take part in the elections: people supported his program on fighting against corruption. According to the politician’s words, he had to participate because he was representing many people.
Navalny’s political career is also marked with some incidents. On March 19, 2017, the politician was egged at the protest against communal services price increase. Still, it did not prevent the activist from meeting people and listening to their problems.
With all that being said about Alexey Navalny’s scandalous career, his personal life is not so remarkable. In 1999, he met his future wife Yulia during his vacation in Turkey; the holiday romance ended with the marriage. For 15 years, Yulia has been keeping the house and dealing with all “side effects” of her husband’s political activities.
Navalny’s friends and accomplices believe that he has a strong, wonderful family. Alexey has two children, Dariya and Zakhar. The couple that they distinguish the responsibilities: Yulia supports Alexey’s political views but avoids giving advice; in his turn, the husband does not interfere in housekeeping and children’s upbringing.
The family lives in the Maryino District, Moscow region, in an ordinary panel house; the total area of the apartment is 80 m2. The opposition activist has two cars: Hyundai and ВАЗ-21083; his wife owns a Ford car. According to the official data, Navalny’s income was ₽9 million in 2012 which was made public during his Moscow mayoral election campaign.
Alexey Navalny’s height it 189 cm. He is one of the tallest persons among Russian political activists.