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The Demise of Alexei Navalny—And His Russia of Choice - govjobcircular.com The Demise of Alexei Navalny—And His Russia of Choice - govjobcircular.com

We are deeply concerned over the unexpected death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was imprisoned, at the age of 47. This is a tale of reckless cruelty, hopelessness, apathetic society, and bereaved families in private. It is also a story about the Russian government, both structurally, as it does not accept competition, and publicly, as many people had the same reactions to the news of Navalny's death—which came as a shock as the events of February 24, 2024—regarding what caused it.

Just as Russian society survived and either freely or forcibly normalized the two prior shocks—the beginning of the "special operation" against Ukraine and the partial mobilization later that same year—so too will it survive this one. More accurately, the majority of Russian society will survive this shock. "You have to defend your homeland in times of need; we were attacked." There are always going to be excuses; the key is to remain composed and exonerate oneself of all accountability. This time, too, the real backbone of Russia's semi-totalitarian regime—passive conformists—will succeed in doing so.

The fact that Navalny passed away during the presidential campaign makes it all the more heartbreaking. Although it may appear that Putin has no opponents, he actually does—more so in a "existential" sense than in an electoral one, as those in positions of authority like to say. The name of his rival was well recognized. First, at the start of this quasi-electoral contest in December, Navalny was transferred to the Arctic Circle to finish serving several jail terms that were mostly seen as retaliation for his political activities. Our ultimate leader can no longer be challenged, as his opponent has passed away. He is now a lone king, or solus rex.

Navalny and the late Yevgeny Prigozhin, a mercenary turned mutineer, had nothing in common, but their absence has left the autocrat even more isolated on his Mount Olympus. All the objectives of the 2020 summer constitutional amendment referendum, which permitted Putin to govern almost endlessly, have been fulfilled. Not only has power been maintained, it is unwavering.

Navalny was expected to die following that same vote in 2020 after being poisoned with the lethal nerve toxin Novichok; instead, his death was just postponed. In essence, there was only one option available to voters: either install an autocrat on the throne or allow for the hypothetical prospect of power rotation. The majority, the obliging conformists, were indifferent and made all the decisions.

The loss of Navalny is unexpected. However, similar to what happened in February 2022, it's a shock that was somewhat anticipated because there was still optimism that the worst would not occur. Now, February 16, 2024 and February 24, 2022—two days that not only altered people's lives in two nations but also transformed the global order into a disorder—will be remembered as two signs of an impending catastrophe.

The political fallout from this event will only heighten the ruling class's and its repressive apparatus' sense of total omnipotence and impunity. This implies that the silent segment of the population, which values autocratic initiatives over free expression, will either become even more reclusive or may even begin to show fervent support for the ruling class. Some passive conformists will realize that they must become active conformists in order to maintain their own mental health.

The authorities do not perceive any threat since, in their opinion, there is a powerful apparatus of tyranny and an equally powerful body of oppressive laws, and those who do not remain silent will simply solidify their status as adversaries. Those who oppose the dictatorship will just speak out more louder and more forcefully, while those who stay silent will keep their mouths shut.