Change in approach to Alexei Navalny points to Kremlin jitters
Unprecedented public comments by Putin and state TV hint at concern over opposition activist’s impact
Vladimir Putin has spent the better part of a decade pretending Alexei Navalny doesn’t exist. The Russian president avoids calling his most prominent opponent by name, while he and state media routinely ignore the corruption allegations Navalny publishes online.
But after the activist led the largest protests in Russia for years from a jail cell last weekend and published an investigation claiming oligarchs had built the president a $1.3bn palace, Putin made it clear that Navalny is very much on his mind.
In a rambling six-minute answer during a stage-managed meeting with students on Monday, Putin admitted he had seen parts of Navalny’s two-hour exposé into a lavish palace allegedly built for the president’s use on the Black Sea coast...