On 17 April, in the city of Kirov, begins a trial where I figure as the organiser of a criminal group intent on stealing logs and sawdust from the company Kirovles, as well as 16m roubles. After the cases against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Pussy Riot, the 16 arrested for the 6 May protest, tens of thousands arrested on falsified cases, non-guilty verdicts that amount to 0.4% of all cases – after all that, the phrase “Kafkaesque trial” seems frightfully banal.
Yes, there’s a chance they will jail me. People have been telling me for four years that they will jail me, and after the start of our “vote for any party, except the party of crooks and thieves” campaign, people started telling me that every 10 seconds. Do I think about it? I do. Do I want to go to jail? No one does. Do Vladimir Putin and Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the investigative committee, dream about sending me to the camps? Actually, what they want most of all is for me to run away. But I’m not going to run away. I’m not going to emigrate. I have a family, two kids – criminal cases have been brought against my mother, my father, my brother; the authorities have carried out searches of nearly all my relatives and many friends. Everything has its price in life.
The investigators listened to my telephone calls and read my emails, where I advised my “partner in crime” Peter Ofitserov to open a Gmail account – that’s how they came to the conclusion that I created a “criminal group” and then tried to hide some sort of financial fraud. There is zero proof. They say: “You stole 16m roubles.” Where do they get this figure from? How did they count it? Neither accounting expertise, nor research of the market has been done to prove that figure – none at all. Of course we will object to all this, will demand new expert studies, will bring our witnesses, but I have no illusions.
There are two options: a suspended sentence or jail. If it’s the first, then that means that they’ve chosen the “Belarusian scenario” in fighting with the opposition: in Belarus, even people who have been found guilty of administrative offences can never run for office. In Russia, an amendment to the electoral law was adopted saying those found guilty of grave crimes cannot be elected. And that’s why they thought up this number of 16m roubles – theft of a rather large amount.
That’s how they solve their pragmatic problem: not to allow Navalny to take part in elections for the Moscow Duma or for Moscow mayor. Plus a ban on travel outside Moscow, so I can’t travel around the country. And then, any other administrative penalty – being detained at a protest and given a 15-day sentence – automatically turns a suspended sentence into a real one. In other words: live at home, don’t get involved in anything, a police baton is constantly hanging over your head.
The second option is a real jail term, which, with what I’m charged under, can reach up to 10 years. I hope it will be a minimum security camp, not a maximum security one. I am ready for this. I’ve prepared myself for it appropriately – I’ve written out my power of attorney, have spoken about it many times with my wife. If they jail me, they jail me. Some will defend me. But, of course, this possibility doesn’t call up any positive emotions.
Why does Putin want to jail me? (I have no doubts that he personally has ordered my case). It seems to me the logic is obvious: he and his circle must guard their power. And to stay in power they have no other mechanism than jailing people – which is what they are doing. I’m not the first and, unfortunately, will not be the last: we must be ready for the fact that they will jail many more people. They’ve stolen billions, they know people are outraged by this, that millions of people share my attitude towards them and they are protecting themselves.