Navalny Case Offers ‘Chilling Effect’ for Russians Considering Political Action

Editor’s note: In an

interview with PBS


‘s Ray Suarez

, Fiona Hill discusses the influence of Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny. Read an excerpt below.

Ray Suarez: For more on Alexei Navalny and the broader significance of his conviction, we turn to Fiona Hill, director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. Her latest book is “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.”

Fiona, is this just another trial of a pesky opposition figure or is it something more significant than that?

Fiona Hill: Well, for Putin, it may well be just another trial of a pesky opposition figure.

But if you look at this in the broader totality of the Russian opposition movement that the piece that we have just seen has really tracked, beginning with the response to falsification in the December 2011 parliamentary elections in Russia, then to the protests about Putin essentially telling the country that he was going to come back as the president and making sure that happened in the presidential elections, this is actually more significant, because what we have really seen over the last year is a concentrated effort by the Kremlin and by Putin himself to decapitate that opposition by targeting key figures.

And Alexei Navalny was question one of the most prominent of those opposition figures who is now being dispensed with, from the Kremlin’s point of view, in a very public and rather humiliating fashion, because what they have done is turned around on Navalny the accusations that he has been throwing at the system of corruption and of personal enrichment by key figures, and saying, well, you are no better than we are, and here you are, you have a five-year jail sentence to contemplate your role in this movement

Watch the full interview »