DISINFO: Alexei Navalny is a xenophobe: he called to kill Chechens as cockroaches and for a Stalinist repression against Migrants
DISINFORMATION CASE DETAILS
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Alexei Navalny Hate Speech Racism Terrorism West Amnesty International

DISINFO: Alexei Navalny is a xenophobe: he called to kill Chechens as cockroaches and for a Stalinist repression against Migrants

SUMMARY

The Chechens, these "cockroaches" "too aggressive" to be killed with slippers

Although Navalny's past racist declarations have been well known for more than a decade, they only emerged recently in the Western world and Amnesty International no longer considers Aleksei Navalny a prisoner of conscience given the fact that he advocated violence and discrimination and he has not retracted such statements.

Those declarations cost him membership of the centre-left Yabloko party, from which he was expelled in 2007. The old videos of Alexeï Navalny, which resurfaced on the occasion of the Western politico-media infatuation for the Russian opponent, have been present for more than thirteen years on his YouTube channel and have been controversial for as many years in Russia.

The best known was posted in September 2007: to promote the legalisation of firearms, he compared the Chechens or even migrants to "cockroaches" and "flies" against which slippers and swatting could not be as effective as a gun. Pistol in hand, after shooting a Muslim, Alexei Navalny declares: "in that case, I recommend the gun."

A month later, in another video stamped NaROD, an astonishing mixture of Bolshevism and ultra-nationalism, a party of which he is a co-founder, Navalny dressed as a dentist draws an unambiguous parallel between the deportation of illegal immigrants and the removal of a decayed tooth. A comparison without tact in a country with a Stalinist past where "deportation" is a heavy word.

RESPONSE

This narrative is part of a campaign to smear Alexei Navalny's reputation in the West.

The technique used is to consider statements or interviews with politicians using 14 years' old promotional videos and change the meaning of them. The anti-fake section of Russian media The Insider exposed this technique.

The first exposed video doesn't compare Chechens or Muslims to cockroaches but terrorists which is far different in the Russian context of 2007. At that time, this type of picture was unambiguously perceived as an indication of terrorist groups that appeared during the war in Chechnya. The video was released three years after the seizure of a school in Beslan and the bombing of two planes by suicide bombers, and in the same year, when the video was filmed, the Nevsky Express train crash, which was blamed on Islamists.

The association Chechen-Terrorist is not made by Navalny himself but the people who spread and explain the video to a non-Russian speaking public.

Also the gun in the video appears as a means of defence against an attack from a certain criminal dressed in black, whose face is not visible. It cannot be interpreted as a call for the murder of "foreigners".

The Insider emphasises that it is clearly intended for viewers who do not speak Russian, who will not notice the gross substitution of concepts.

The next argument in the article targeting a French speaking audience is that the word "deportation" would have a heavy meaning in Russian due to Stalinism repressions, hence that Navalny advocates such practices. The word exists in many languages and comes from the Latin deportatio (deportation, exile), but the connotation might be different according to the language. In French, the word today is associated with totalitarianism and the term "expulsion" is preferred. In Russian, the word is totally neutral and used every day by official bodies without any reference to the Hitler or Stalin times. Moreover, many people still ignore the crimes committed against entire populations in the USSR and some historians like Yuri Dmitriev are persecuted in today's Russia.

In 2016, conversations between Alexei Navalny and Adam Michnik were published in English in Alexei Navalny and Opposing Forces: Plotting the New Russia. The Polish thinker summarises this episode in this way:

In 2016, conversations between Alexei Navalny and Adam Michnik were published in English in Alexei Navalny and Opposing Forces: Plotting the New Russia. The Polish thinker summarises this episode in this way:

In 2007 Navalny joined with two others to found a “nationalist-democratic” movement called Narod (“The People”). Its manifesto called for honest elections and checks and balances, and denounced provocateurs that preached xenophobia and violence against non-natives. It also demanded the legalisation of handguns and the deportation of immigrants who did not respect Russia’s “law and traditions.”

The conversations presented here should clarify the nature of Navalny’s nationalism today. He comes across as a moderate, European-style conservative. He believes that Russia should introduce the kind of visa regime and work quotas that most Western countries have used for years to manage labour migration. He would like the Orthodox Church to cultivate a respect for tradition, family values, and Christian teaching, but to stay out of politics.

Yevgenia Albats, a prominent editor and journalist, who knows personally and supported Alexei Navalny since the beginning of his political career concludes in this way:

I was one Jew who believed that Navalny had to give it a try and find ways to speak to the young Russian nationalists. After all, if he didn’t do it, then Kremlin-groomed Goebbels were going to fill the void.

Read related stories: Navalny is not a politician with a programme, he is only a populist who denounces the establishment.

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