weaponized immigrant
(In bed with) the Russians
Episode #6: Navalny, the Kremlin, and the curse of neoliberalism

Paid episode

The full episode is only available to paid subscribers of weaponized immigrant

Episode #6: Navalny, the Kremlin, and the curse of neoliberalism

Separated at birth — a young Navalny and a young Yeltsin.

Alexei Navalny — returned from the novichok-dead — is back in Russia, back in jail, and back in the news. Protests have been taking place in cities all across the country with people calling for his release, and it’s pretty clear that the poisoning and the new jail term have only increased Navalny’s cult political status. He’s become an almost mythical figure now, beating death itself in order to save Russia from Vladimir Putin and to lead the Russian people to freedom.

It makes sense that people are getting caught up in the recent life and death drama of the Navalny story. I mean, how can you not. But Evgenia and I talk about something a bit deeper — something’s that’s usually left unsaid in both Russian and western media circles.

What are Navalny politics? And what are the politics of the movement he now leads? Besides being broadly against corruption and opposing Putin’s soft-authoritarian grip on power, what do they actually believe in?

One important point we make is that there is no substantive ideological and political differences between the politics of Putin’s neoliberal clan of oligarchs, bureaucrats, and security goons and those of Navalny’s liberal opposition — an opposition that wants to replace Putin’s rule with itself. Aside form maybe some cultural and clique differences, they’re both various flavors of neoliberalism, or what in the Russian context, you’d call “liberalism.” Evgenia and I have been yelled at online by both Americans and Russians for pointing this out, but it’s true.

One dead giveaway that Navalny’s a neoliberal: he is not against the criminal privatization of the Soviet Union’s industries and resources that happened under Boris Yeltsin — a process that not only created Russia’s corrupt oligarchical political system but also put Putin into power. As surprising as it may seem for all his talk about corruption, Navalny is not against oligarchs as a class. He praises “good” oligarchs — especially western oligarchs — like he does with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates in his viral Putin’s Place doc. From what we can tell, Navalny is only against bad Russian oligarchs — Putin’s oligarchs — because they made money through corruption.

This post is for paid subscribers

weaponized immigrant
(In bed with) the Russians
Bedtime stories with Evgenia and Yasha.
Listen on
Substack App
RSS Feed
Appears in episode
Yasha Levine