A few words about Navalny, possibly being locked away for a long time. Many compare this to the fate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was ten years in prison, from 2003 to 2013. Though he still has some influence, he’s far away from being a political force to really reckon today. Will that be the future for Navalny as well? I don’t think so. The two cases are hardly comparable.
First: In 2003 Putin was at the beginning of his journey, highly popular, boosted by an ever growing economy and growing incomes.
Second: Khodorkovsky was, despite of his political engagement, an „oligarkh“, one of the most hated rich persons in Russia. Putin easily framed his arrest as part of rightly taking back the wealth of the nation by the state.
Third: Khodorkovsky may have been a brilliant business man, but he was a poor beginner as a politician. The glue of his network was his money first and political ideas second.
Forth: Thus even the solidarity campaign for him was always an uphill battle.
Fifth: Navalny has build a political network, that most probably will last even without his personally involvement. This network is build on political interests (and ideology), but not on money (whatever the propaganda says).
Sixth: The protests on Saturday, especially the fact that many newcomers took the streets, who are not necessarily ideologically agree with him. They rather share the notion of „enough“.
Sevenths: With the poisoning, how he came out of it and his return to Russia Navalny showed a level of commitment that earned him a lot of respect even among those critical of him. This may be a precondition for becoming sort of a „hero in prison“ and even a martyr.
It may be the biggest irony in this story that the Kremlin tried to avoid to let Navalny obtain this status from the very beginning. Now, in the exact moment Navalny has really the chance to become a hero, the Kremlin seems to panic and loose its self control.