Monday night’s arrest of Alexei Navalny, a crusading anti-corruption blogger, might be the biggest mistake the authorities could have made, suggested Alexei Venediktov, chief editor at the Ekho Moskvy radio station. An opposition that was looking for a charismatic leader might have just found one.
Navalny, 35, was heading an unsanctioned protest over the Russian elections when he was taken into custody. It was Navalny who coined the expression “party of crooks and thieves” to describe Vladimir Putin’s United Russia — a name that is now almost universal here.
“This is our enemy and we hate him!” Navalny told the crowd of several thousand demonstrators before his arrest. “We should remember that they are nobody. And we are the power. We do not need thieves and crooks! We want another president and not a thief and crook!”