Manage episode 356938587 series 94072
Well before launching the horrifying campaign against Ukraine a year ago, Vladimir Putin had been undermining Russia as well: normalizing corruption on a massive scale, and suppressing dissent and democracy. One of the darkest moments on that trajectory was the poisoning of the opposition leader Alexey Navalny with the nerve agent novichok. Navalny and a team of investigators had illustrated the corruption of Putin and his circle in startling detail, and Navalny began travelling the country to launch a bid for the Presidency. “Every time when I heard Navalny giving an interview, I don’t think there was one interview where he wasn’t asked, ‘How come you’re still alive? How come they still haven’t they killed you?,’ ” recalls the Russian activist Maria Pevchikh, the head of investigations and media for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. “And Navalny is rolling his eyes saying, ‘I don’t know, I’m tired of this question, stop asking. I don’t know why I’m still alive and why they haven’t tried to assassinate me.’ ” Pevchikh was travelling with Navalny when he was poisoned, and helped uncover the involvement of the F.S.B. security services. After surviving the assassination and recuperating abroad, Navalny returned to Russia only to be arrested and then detained in a penal colony. “I think Putin wants him to suffer a lot and then die in prison,” Pevchikh tells David Remnick. Still, she maintains hope. “The situation is so chaotic, specifically because of the war,” she says. “Is the likelihood of Navalny being released when the war ends high? I think it is almost certain.” Pevchikh also served as an executive producer of the documentary “Navalny,” which is nominated for an Academy Award.