In a stealthy Friday afternoon news dump, straight from the you-can’t-make-this-up files, see if this scenario doesn’t sound just a tad familiar. Russia announced that government opposition leader Alexey Navalny was convicted on charges of “promoting extremism,” and was gifted an extra 19 years in prison, tacked on to the nine-year sentence he is already serving for parole violations, fraud, and contempt of court.
Navalny has been one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics, and his supporters feel that the charges against him are politically motivated. Navalny has criticized both Putin and the Kremlin’s foreign and domestic policies. During his latest trial, Navalny is facing accusations that he founded an extremist organization called the Anti-Corruption Foundation. The group has started multiple investigations into the wealth of many of Russia’s elite. He also created a network that sought to challenge local politicians who were approved by the Kremlin. He faces seven charges, including participating in and funding extremist groups, and even trying to revitalize Nazism.
Back in April, Navalny claimed a separate proceeding had begun for the extremism charge, and he expected that ultimately—if convicted of all charges—it could mean life in prison. But in what has to be the most jaw-dropping case of self-unawareness, U.S. officials have “strongly condemned” Navalny’s latest conviction.
The United States strongly condemns Russia’s conviction of opposition leader Aleksey Navalny on politically motivated charges. The Kremlin cannot silence the truth. Navalny should be released.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) August 4, 2023
Secretary of State Antony Blinken composed a strongly worded tweet that said,
The United States strongly condemns Russia’s conviction of opposition leader Alexey Navalny on politically motivated charges. The Kremlin cannot silence the truth. Navalny should be released.
And oh yes, there’s more. U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller also said, “This is an unjust conclusion to an unjust trial.”
The irony gets even more delicious. Navalny said in a statement released by his supporters on Thursday, prior to the verdict being announced, “I urge you to think why such a demonstratively huge sentence is necessary. Its main purpose is to intimidate. You, not me. I will even say this: you personally, the one reading these lines.”
Navalny was arrested and put in prison in 2021 after returning from Germany, where he was recovering from being poisoned. He blames the Kremlin, however Russian officials deny they are responsible. Once he was imprisoned, he was then sentenced to two-and-a-half years for a parole violation, and at that point, charges against him kept mounting. In still more irony, Navalny says the goal for the government is to keep him in prison for as long as possible, and Russian officials are also cracking down on Navalny’s supporters.
Self-unawareness does not afford you the foresight to realize you will be filleted like a swordfish on social media upon posting such comedy stylings. And Secretary Blinken was no exception. It started out with,
This is easily the funniest tweet I’ve read today.
— Mark 🐸 🗑 Samenfink (@MSamenfink) August 4, 2023
And went to the truly astounded,
Is this parody?
— Pro Swing Trading 📈😎🇺🇸 (@Pro__Trading) August 4, 2023
There were even some who tried to be helpful in making the absurd obvious for Secretary Blinken,
Because jailing your political opponent is bad?
— Ian Haworth (@ighaworth) August 4, 2023
But some just came out and said it.
Hypocrite much? Are you completely tone deaf?
— George Caracciolo, Jr (@gCaracciolo_jr) August 4, 2023
So, let’s review. In Russia, it is wrong to jail your political opponents, keep piling charge after charge on them so that you can imprison them as long as possible, and then attempt to round up their supporters—and maybe you can jail them as well. But in America, all of these things are perfectly okay, because, democracy, or Jefferson and Adams trying to overthrow the government, or something equally constitutionally astute. But they are okay only if it is done to someone of the correct party. If not, the whole thing is unjust, and there was cheating, and we won. End of story.
No word on whether there is an election coming up in Russia.