The Cable

Putin’s Political Foil Navalny Is Now Wearing an Eyepatch

This is what happens when you don’t let your rivals out of the country to seek medical treatment after goons attack them.

navalny eye

Alexei Navalny, the man currently running for president of Russia even though election officials say his criminal record means he’s barred from doing so, is wearing an eyepatch.

He unveiled the new look on Thursday, after Russia’s penitentiary inspection said he could not travel out of the country to get his vision fixed. Navalny’s lawyer, Vadim Kobez, said they were told that convicts are not allowed to leave the country. Navalny is in the process of trying to overturn an embezzlement conviction that he maintains is politically motivated. He is appealing the case — which was recently upheld by a court in Kirov — to the European Court of Human Rights.

Navalny’s team got the call just hours after it was announced that he would in fact receive a passport to travel abroad, where he could seek proper care for a badly damaged eye.

And why does Navalny need his vision fixed? Because, on April 27, the activist had green anti-septic thrown in his face, apparently making him roughly 80 percent blind in one eye.

This is the second time Navalny has been hit in the face with green dye. The first time, which happened roughly a month earlier, Navalny was able to spin the incident to his advantage, painting the rest of his face green and encouraging his supporters to follow suit (which they did).

Navalny said that individuals with ties to the Kremlin were responsible for the attack. That is not to say that the attack was ordered by the Kremlin; there is no evidence it did.

Navalny’s supporters, and not the police, are actively investigating the attacks against the person in Russia most openly opposing Putin for the presidency.

Photo credit: VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is the U.S. editor of the New Statesman and the author of The Influence of Soros, published July 2020. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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