Putin's dilemma: What to do with Navalny?

The Russian President faces an opposition leader like no other - one who has become harder to silence after surviving an assassination attempt last year

A woman in Moscow watching yesterday a video released online this week by Russian political activist Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption foundation. It reveals details of a lavish palace allegedly built for President Vladimir Putin (above) that overlook
A woman in Moscow watching yesterday a video released online this week by Russian political activist Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption foundation. It reveals details of a lavish palace allegedly built for President Vladimir Putin that overlooks the Black Sea. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A woman in Moscow watching yesterday a video released online this week by Russian political activist Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption foundation. It reveals details of a lavish palace allegedly built for President Vladimir Putin (above) that overlook
A woman in Moscow watching yesterday a video released online this week by Russian political activist Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption foundation. It reveals details of a lavish palace allegedly built for President Vladimir Putin (above) that overlooks the Black Sea. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"That Alexei Navalny must be really important" - goes a joke making the rounds on websites in Russia - "if he has our own secret service washing his underpants".

The reference is to the Russian blogger and political activist who spent five months recovering from a near-fatal poisoning after Russian secret agents allegedly smeared his underpants with the deadly Novichok nerve agent and then rushed to wash his underwear to remove the evidence.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2021, with the headline 'Putin's dilemma: What to do with Navalny?'. Subscribe