The Evolution of Alexey Navalny’s Nationalism – The New Yorker

For years I have been content to be conflicted about Alexey Navalny. On the one hand, I thought he was an extraordinarily brave, inventive, and committed opponent of Vladimir Putin’s regime. On the other hand, he had allied himself with ultranationalists and had expressed views that I found extremely objectionable and potentially dangerous. Over the years, I’ve had a couple of arguments with Navalny and a few with my friends whose support for him flummoxed me—a mentor of his who is Jewish, a tireless campaign volunteer who is Armenian—but I felt I could respect him and disagree with him at the same time. Nationalist leaders have, historically, often played key roles in building democracies. And it’s not as if I had to decide whether to vote for Navalny.

Now Navalny is in jail, facing years behind bars. (His current sentence of two years and eight months is likely just the beginning.) He has survived more than one Kremlin-backed assassination attempt, and people close to him fear that he will now be killed in prison. The Kremlin, which for years banned his name from the airwaves, has accused him of staging his own near-death and unleashed a propaganda offensive against him, deploying, among others, the accusation that he is a far-right ethno-nationalist. In the English-language press, the socialist magazine Jacobin published an article branding Navalny an “anti-immigrant” nationalist who cannot be trusted; the British journalist Anatol