Name? Vladimir Putin
Westphalian identity? Russian
Why is he in the news? Ahead of Putin’s meeting with President Biden, a Russian court designated Navalny’s political movement an ‘extremist network,’ pushing any opposition further underground if not behind bars.
Why do we care? While the court’s decision technically does not come from Putin, it most certainly passed with his blessing. This classification of Navalny’s movement sends a clear message to Putin’s counterparts (particularly Biden) ahead of the G7 and NATO conferences this week: Russia’s domestic affairs are theirs alone–end of discussion.
Why should you care? Because the law designates any and all of Mr Navalny’s donors, organizers, colleagues, and even social-media supporters as part of an ‘extremist network;’ making them more likely to be prosecuted and put in prison. For those who care about freedom of the press or freedom of expression, you should care 7/10.
Who else cares? President Biden. The Commander in Chief is set to meet with both NATO and President Putin on his European trip. While he has promised to push back against Putin and the international norms the Russian president has seemingly ignored, Putin is making it all the more clear that how he runs Russia is not up for debate. The question now is whether Biden will push forward on talks regarding cyberspace and geopolitics or stand strong in his stance against Putin’s latest actions.
Any further comments? As Putin so eloquently stated, ““Why is it only our non-systemic opposition that you are interested in?” Like many of his counterparts, when questioned about repression at home or in neighboring countries (Belarus), Putin was quick to take up finger-pointing politics and reflect on the “sad events in the U.S. where people refused to accept the election results and stormed Congress.” While Biden may not be a “I have a bigger button” president, next week he could prove to be a “my opposition is less relevant than yours” president.