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Free for now, blog 'martyr' aims high

Helen Womack (via SMH) | Aug. 6, 2013
The anti-corruption blogger, on bail since receiving a five-year jail sentence, is making maximum use of whatever time he has left as a free man to pursue his campaign for election.

"The migrants are entitled to know what conditions they can expect when they come here to work," he said.

Two migrants from Kyrgyzstan, taking out the rubbish in a yard in the Novogireevo district, appeared to confirm Mr Volkov's words when they said they had been working in Moscow for two months, had not been paid yet and had no idea what wages to expect. They had not heard of Mr Navalny.

Apart from the blogger's passionate supporters, who say they will turn out in droves to observe the election and make sure there is no ballot rigging, other opposition-minded Russians are weighing Mr Navalny up before they commit themselves to voting for him.

"Heaven knows I am tired of Putin, heaven knows I would like a change," said teacher Mikhail V. "But when I saw him interviewed on Dozhd [web TV], he seemed to gesticulate rather hysterically. I am trying to judge by what I see of him, rather than what others say about him. I am not won over yet."

"He's like Yeltsin, isn't he?" said Larissa T., a pensioner. "I'm a bit nervous of him because I don't want a revolution."

Indeed, although he has a long way to go before he gathers the mass support that the late Boris Yeltsin enjoyed in 1990, he is aiming for the same Moscow city job that Yeltsin once held, using the same populist rhetoric that propelled Yeltsin to power.

Here the historical parallels probably end. For while Yeltsin opposed Mikhail Gorbachev, who retired gracefully when defeated in 1991, Mr Navalny is dealing with Mr Putin, who looks far less likely to go without a fight.


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