free press eristavi: the thing with navalny
here's what really bothers survivors of russian colonialism about him
‘why are you so obsessed with him?’
‘he is not your real enemy, putin is!’
‘so he said some upsetting stuff years ago, but the important thing is that he wants a better russia’
‘you are helping putin!’
These are just some of the reactions I get from foreigners for criticizing the Russian opposition leader. Several days ago, a western reporter asked for a comment to explain what’s going on, too: ‘I have been noticing the deepening divide between the Russian opposition and Ukrainians. Do I understand correctly you do not believe in any genuine Russian opposition to the war, or does this apply to Navalny in particular?’ It made me realize that many abroad still don’t understand what really triggers Ukrainians and other survivors of Russian colonialism about foreign support for Russian opposition.
First, it is not like the issue is a new one - the facts are just one search away. Navalny’s long record of obscene racist, imperial and colonial comments is well-documented. The record he has never owned or apologized for. Nor is this pattern exclusive just to the man: modern Russian opposition is unapologetically imperial, racist, and colonial, too. Examples keep coming literally every day: from viral footage of a lone Russian woman protesting the war in Ukraine but still utilizing colonial propaganda doing it to a pro-Navalny rally of Russian refugees in Georgia shutting down indigenous women for criticizing them. As the popular saying goes, the only thing the Russian opposition is good at is opposing Ukrainians and other survivors of Russian colonialism.
Second, the only reason why still so few foreigners know about this record is that Western mainstream media and elites still prefer to get their insights on Russia from the Russian establishment — either from Kremlin propaganda or Russian ‘liberal’ propaganda. The idea that survivors of Russian colonial abuse might explain Russia much better than Russians themselves remains a very radical idea for foreign folks. And don’t get me even started on the culture of Russians conveniently filtering themselves in foreign languages.
But here’s the most important thing: no Ukrainian or any other indigenous survivor of Russian colonialism gives any shit about Navalny per se (nor the majority of Russians do, tbh). Your uncritical support for imperialist and racist Russian opposition is what is triggering. The serial pattern of foreign attitude always allowing Russian imperial elites to swap regime names without ever critically examining the cultural, historical, and societal roots of Russian colonialism is what helped them to keep millions of us colonized and enslaved for centuries.
Like in 1918, when dozens of indigenous nations begged the world to help them to liberate themselves from #RussianColonialism and everyone brush us off by saying, “but it is a new, better Russia.” Like in 1939, when Russians and germans made a slaughter fest out of our region but the world looked the other way, pretending that Eastern European lives are a fair price to pay for not “provoking” red and brown fascists. Like in 1945, when the world left us enslaved as a “gift” to Russian colonialism even though Russians didn’t pay the highest price for Europe free of Nazism - Ukrainians, Belarusians, and other indigenous nations did — while Russians hid behind the backs of our grandparents. Like in 1991, when the world once again ignored the cry for independence from indigenous nations trapped inside Russia (like Chechens) using the same “but it is a new, better Russia” argument.
Wake up, friends. It has never been about Navalny. Partitioned, disarmed, and decolonized Russia is the only peace plan that will ever work.
PS: I don’t give many interviews these days, but plotting with amazing Paul Massaro for the end of russian colonial empire was just too fun of an opportunity to miss.
here is what's in store for you this week:
how #RussianColonialism copied European colonial tactics of “liberating indigenous women” to cement colonization of Central Asia in the 1920-30s and hijack indigenous cultural codes;
we are going to learn about what is a transgenerational culture of silence and what russian colonialism has to do with it;
turns out, russia has been funding genocide in Ukraine through the colonial pillage of African resources;
leopards, “russia’s India” and why russian colonialism has always been radically anti-environment.
curious for more? let's go.