Birthday is an occasion for celebration and enjoyment. But for Vladimir Putin his 65th birthday wasn’t that pleasant. In fact, thousands of people who gathered at Pushkin Square reminded him that he may have finally met his match in 41-year-old Alexei Navalny.
The crowd demanded that Navalny should be allowed to contest in the upcoming presidential elections. This may herald the rise of Navalny who has captured the public opinion.
A product of the Gorbachev era, Navalny was born on 4th June 1976 in Moscow to lower middle-class parents who owned a small scale basket weaving business. However, Navalny who admired Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin chose a path different from his parents.
Navalny supports Western-style liberal democracy and he chose the path of politics early in his career. His career in politics began after graduating in law from the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia. He joined the Russian United Democratic Party ‘Yabloko’ in 2000 and soon began to lead party’s Moscow wing.
He started coming into public limelight after starting his own blog in 2008 where he started exposing and openly questioning corruption that was rampant in state-owned institutions and companies – a new thing in Russia which doesn’t promote dissent. Navalny quickly became a craze among the tech-savvy younger generation.
In 2011, Navalny who till then was just another critic of the government turned into a national symbol of hope. The protests led by Navalny who had by then started ‘the People’ movement against the alleged foul play in the Duma elections won by Putin’s United Russia, saw him challenge Putin in public.
Navalny who now leads the Progress party has openly declared his willingness to contest the upcoming presidential elections of 2018. However, this may be not possible due to his involvement in a case of embezzlement.
This has not prevented Navalny or his followers from starting their election campaign and becoming the ‘chief threat to Vladimir Putin.’
A report in the New York Times was quoted saying that “Navalny adopts an authoritarian leadership style. His closest associates have come from the hired staff of his Anti-Corruption Foundation, people to whom he pays a salary and for whom he will always be a boss, not a partner.”
Further, his views and his hyper-nationalistic ideology and open opposition to illegal immigration has raised doubts among some.