Speaking from such a position, he can, on the one hand, seize on and exploit in his own way the myth of the “wild 90s,” where state propaganda operates, and on the other hand, without breaking his voice, he can master the new intonation of prophet-denunciator – castigating those whom the people has never trusted, even though some of them are accustomed to being respected by the “educated class;” he will also one day get to some members of the latter, Mikhail Berg predicts.
Is he always fair in this? Hardly, but it is just not the main thing for him; he is strong with “popular opinion” and is ready to even “to be wrong together with the people” in some things. He has no other people for us, and he does not see any other support for himself today either.Navalny and the war
Navalny’s democraticness also determines his position on the war. He is against it, though he speaks about it with clear restraint, without sobs and curses, because he is addressing not only those who condemn it, but mainly those who are in it directly or (more often) indirectly, consciously or (more often) compelled to be involved. He does not take his lead from them but he does echo their experience and situation.
That is why his main epithet for the war is not “criminal” or “inhuman,” but “stupid:” the only reproach that can be addressed to the people involved in it without risking rejection from them, as telling a person that he is an immoral scoundrel is only insulting him in vain, while everyone rightly fears being fooled and tends to listen to those who warn them against it.
One of the critics of his manifesto (Gasan Guseinov
) complained that Navalny did not mention his “main ally” in it. One can be surprised at this only “from the outside,” from the intelligentsia’s standpoint: Navalny will never express friendly feelings toward Ukraine. It seems he is still remembered in Ukraine for his infamous comparison of Crimea to a “sandwich,”
and the Ukrainians are unlikely to hasten to accept his hand extended to him; but the main thing is that this unfortunate phrase itself did not arise by chance, but because of an unknown audience he was speaking to – Navalny knows how to speak to his voters, but Ukrainians are not his voters. He is a democratic Russian politician, and today he cannot be seen as a turncoat, even in this unfair conflict.
But this does not mean that he has nothing to say to Ukraine at all, and we should hope that one day he will be able to say it from a different, even stronger position; not as a political prisoner, but as a statesman. Most likely, it will be rather tough words: “I have the right to offer you only what my people are ready for today, and you may not like it very much, but I will be honest and respectful with you, you can trust me.”
This is usually what the first steps toward reconciliation look like.