Aleksandr Kots: The “White Helmet” of Navalny

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


This was a classic provocation that Alexey Navalny has tried to stage a countless number of times over the past six years. But all the time something was missing – somewhere among the number of protest, somewhere in the cruelty of the opponents, someone in the organisation of staff… On May 5th he finally “succeeded” – there was detentions, stone throwing, and scuffles… Everything that Navalny tried to obtain, cunningly calling for a peaceful protest.

Like the Syrian “white helmets”, he detonates his information bomb at the right time and in the right place, counting on the maximum effect. And it will undoubtedly be in the Western press. No one, like in Syria, will go into the details of what happened — the picture is too colorful, it’s impossible to not use it. Especially before the inauguration, especially before the World Cup, especially… Here there can be a long list of irritants. And if in 2012 on Bolotnaya square there was at least some hint of sincerity, then on May 5th it was just business.

By the way, there is a very important point that distinguishes May 5th’s action from the “Bolotnaya” one six years ago. In the current street protest environment there is practically nobody who participated in those past events. People grew up, grew wiser, and simply were disappointed in the “leader of the opposition”. They spoke about it very eloquently on the eve of May 5th’s unsanctioned rally.

“I’m not going to Navalny’s rally and I don’t advise you to go either,” said Vladimir Akimenkov, who was condemned in the “Bolotnaya case”. “It would be foolish to go to jail for the interests of a businessman-politician who always spat at even the political prisoners who came to his meetings, to go to jail for the interests of a deceiver and manipulator.”

“Don’t get fooled by the stupid and identical provocations that follow one after the other. Think with your own head,” advised the former Deputy head of the Moscow HQ of the “presidential campaign” of Navalny Vitaly Strokanov. “He does not agree to carry out his rally on Sakharova Avenue, because he’s afraid that people will not attend it, therefore he will not be detained, there won’t be any hype.”

This concerns the place of a procession and rally on Sakharova Avenue that was agreed for the opposition, which the whimsical leader of schoolboys rejected, having decided that it is too far from the center — on the other side of Garden Ring. And his new fans, who only just left elementary school in 2012, happily took the bait — unsanctioned head-butting with the police is much more interesting than boring rostrum demagoguery.

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And suddenly on Pushkinskaya square they faced two surprises at once. Firstly, not only the opponents of the government, but also its supporters can gather in one city point. And it can so happen that supporters of the government can be more numerous, and things can result in fisticuffs. Navalny didn’t warn about this, after all, it was said that it would be fun.

And secondly, for some reason the police don’t tolerate stones and bottles flying towards them. And Navalny also didn’t warn about this, but it is precisely this that he counted on. Navalny, having removed his protest leader yellow shirt long ago, now he tries on his provoker “white helmet”.

I know in advance what he’ll say when he leaves the police station. The clashes were provoked by the supporters of the government, that they also threw stones at the police, and that Tverskaya Street was blocked by Cossacks. The latter, of course, helped Navalny, waving whips in front of cameras, (even the journalist of “Komsomolskaya Pravda” were subjected to this). And we’ll achieve a lot in this way… After all, only the State should have a monopoly on violence, otherwise we’ll have another Ukraine…

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