We were friends for the last four years. We are no more. But it does not mean we can’t be again.
Yes, I saw those videos of Alexei Navalny from years ago, where he compares immigrants to a rotting tooth. I didn’t like it. I also know his views about Crimea and I don’t like it too. Navalny is definitely not a saint. He made mistakes in the past. He will probably make mistakes in the future.
… That is, he will, if he is ever free again.
See, nobody is a saint. We all make mistakes and we all have or had views that are egoistic, close-minded, prejudiced, and plain wrong. If someone claims they don’t, they either lie to themselves and everyone around them, or they have spent their entire life under a stone and never actually achieved anything. Or both. You, Amnesty, you also made mistakes many times, both in who or what you supported (or failed to support) and in how you managed money we donated to you. And yet I kept my donations because I have never expected you to be a saint.
Also, please don’t think I try to trivialize what Navalny said in those videos. I don’t. But here’s the thing: if Russia was a free democratic country, Navalny would probably be one of its politicians ,and we could call him out for what he said, discuss it, tell him he’s an idiot and a stinky nationalist, and never ever support him again. But Russia is not a democratic country. It’s a dictatorship ruled by a power-hungry, paranoid old man. Basically, Vladimir Putin does not call himself a tzar only to maintain appearances. He oppresses his own people, supports dictators abroad in their actions to oppress theirs, and influences media to keep everyone else divided and unable to react. And you fell for it, Amnesty. You focused on stupid things Navalny said years ago instead of what he did and achieved recently. You made a horrible PR mistake of first making him your “prisoner of conscience”, then deciding to remove that status, and then going all “oh no, we still support him” on social media. For me, it was a clear sign that you worry about your PR more than you should and because of it, you allowed Putin to play you like a hurdy-gurdy.
Imagine Russia without Putin. Russia as a free, democratic country. A country that cooperates with other democratic countries and helps to stop wars instead of stirring new ones. Russia that doesn’t send brigades of trolls to spread hatred on social media, empower fascists, and influence elections. I believe that it is one of the most important goals in global politics, more important than any quarrels we have among each other. To achieve that, we need to stand together despite our mistakes and differences and see Putin’s propaganda for what it is.
As far as I know, Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, and Штабы Навального (“Navalny’s Staffs”) are unable to receive donations from abroad due to Russian laws, so for now my donations will go to the next closest organization of a similar profile I could find, i.e. Human Rights Foundation where Garry Kasparov is the chairman. As for you, Amnesty, I hope you will learn something from this mess. We need you too, as a force for good. We need everyone.