Defend Truth

REFLECTION: A TRUE BETRAYAL

When the ANC’s closest allies killed their own Mandela in Navalny and we looked away

When the ANC’s closest allies killed their own Mandela in Navalny and we looked away
Tributes to late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in front of a monument carrying a work of the late Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, in Seoul, South Korea, on 20 February 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Yonhap)

Alexei Navalny was a political leader who transcended his political roots and graduated into possibly the closest follower of the example that Nelson Mandela set during his fight for freedom and decades in jail. Navalny is now dead, killed by the very friends of the party that claims Mandela as its lasting icon, in a textbook example of true betrayal.

In recent years South Africa’s many compatriots, well-meaning observers and friends all over the world have been alarmed by the ANC-led government’s foreign policy turn, which is antithetical to the values on which modern South Africa was built. This departure on the Russian train, which became obvious during the early days of the invasion of Ukraine, has been accelerated over the past few months, and especially over the past few weeks, during which:

  • Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, expressed support for Hitler’s reasoning for invading Poland in 1939 (and starting World War 2, which killed 80-plus million people);
  • The eager and energetic participation of an ANC delegation, led by its secretary-general, at a “For Freedom of Nations” forum in Moscow; and
  • The tragic news of Alexei Navalny’s death on Friday, just in time to add an extra level of threat hanging over Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as he was about to address the audience at the Munich Security Conference.

Navalny’s political views in his early days were not something I could ever agree with. He made a video disparaging Muslim immigrants, supported right-wingers and even supported Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014. But he moderated his nationalist leanings mid-career and admitted he had been wrong. In his manifesto from prison called “15 theses of a Russian citizen who desires the best for their country”, Navany, among other things, called for the country’s return to the internationally recognised borders of 1991.

In this process of self-transformation, he became a modern-era politician with a platform of establishing a real democracy in Russia through the fight against corruption. There was a taste of this freedom in the chaotic days of Boris Yeltsin, but it never reached a period of normality where orderly daily life and democracy existed shoulder to shoulder.

Navalny’s anti-corruption fight in a country that houses 5,889 nuclear warheads was massively effective and, as a consequence, it imprinted a big target on his back.

Emerging as a real leader of the opposition after his unsuccessful run for mayor of Moscow in 2013, Navalny’s natural leadership and unbridled energy made him an especially painful thorn in the side of Putin’s regime. No one was as fearless and no one was nearly as good a communicator as he was. His protests drew masses to the streets and his statements were followed and absorbed by Russia’s youth and intelligentsia in their tens of millions.

Navalny rattled Russia’s ruling securocrat elite. His boundless energy inspired mostly young people to expect and demand better from their government. In the process, he was attacked, brutally and repeatedly. He was twice sprayed with green dye, which injured his right eye, and on 20 August 2020 was on the receiving end of an assassination attempt with the poison novichok, which he barely survived. He was airlifted to Germany two days later, probably presumed soon-to-be-dead by the Putin regime.

And yet, he survived with the help of German doctors and released a gripping exposé of one of the Russian president’s biggest corruption scandals, Putin’s Palace — History of the World’s Largest Bribe, seen by some 129 million people. (It is great TV, too.)

anc putin navalny

A photo of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny among floral tributes outside the Russian embassy in Berlin, Germany, on 21 February 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Hannibal Hanschke)

That exposé was but one of many that shook the tangled web of Russian politicians, generals and oligarchs who had bled the country dry since the demise of the USSR.

Should anyone from the ANC and its government care to learn more, they can easily find an exposé on oligarch Alisher Usmanov’s bribing of the former president and premier Dmitry Medvedev via a fishing retreat, as well as a delightfully funny exposé of another corrupt deal by the same players.

(Medvedev these days leads the United Russia party; one of his deputies is Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, who, you guessed it, was also exposed by Navalny’s investigation team. That would be the very same right-wing-friendly United Russia party that invited the ANC to its Moscow anti-colonialism conference.)

These investigations are but a fraction of a much larger body of cutting-edge investigative journalism which exposed the epic scale of corruption schemes by Russia’s political and business ruling class.

A momentous decision

Navalny knew that he was going to be arrested should he ever return to Russia from Germany, especially after the Putin palace exposé; and yet he decided to make that fateful journey back home.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Lest one day we forget: With Putin’s Russia, South Africa is committing a historic mistake

That was the moment when this extraordinary man left the realm of the normal and became a legend, a Russian counterpart to Nelson Mandela.

He did not care about his physical safety or integrity — even as he knew that he would probably be killed eventually.

But he also knew well that, with every day he spent outside of Russia as an émigré, the power of his ideas and beliefs would be further diminished. He knew firsthand the power of Putin’s propaganda machinery.

He knew that the Russian news agency Tass, virtually all of Russia’s TV stations and news sites, RT, bloggers, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s goons at the Internet Research Agency (a vicious St Petersburg-based army of trolls, numbering some 2,000 in those days) and their associates around the world (many of them in Africa) would work in unison to create a parallel world in which Putin was a hero and Navalny a CIA hack designed to ruin Russia and its people.

For his ideals of a better Russia to have a chance of not being laid waste by propaganda, he had to return home.

On 17 January 2021, he flew to Moscow where was promptly arrested and soon after sentenced to 2½ years for “parole violation” — even as he had left Russia for Germany when he was in a coma after being poisoned by Putin-controlled GRU operatives.

(The original prison sentence was from the first show trial of Navalny in 2017, which also, rather conveniently for Putin, stopped Navalny from contesting the 2018 presidential election.)

In June 2021, his Anti-Corruption Foundation was banned across 40 cities in Russia as “extremist”.

In March 2022, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, another sentence of nine years was slapped on Navalny, for “embezzlement and contempt of court”.

In August 2023, he was sentenced to an additional 19 years for “extremism and nationalism” in a trial during which Navalny dryly remarked that he was “conducting terror attacks while sitting in prison”.

In the prisons where he was incarcerated, he was subject to sleep deprivation, psychological terror, physical abuse — and even his food was an avenue of torture.

Putin’s regime tried everything, but they could not break Navalny’s spirit. On Thursday, 15 February, during another court hearing, he even found the energy to joke with the judge.

The following day, 16 February, Navalny was declared dead.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Russia’s lost Alexei Navalny’s drive for sanity but his spirit lives on

The man responsible…

The world was shocked but not surprised. The question of who/what was responsible for his death has dominated many a social media debate, but it is immaterial. Even as the prison authorities refuse to release Navalny’s body to his family, raising serious questions about the cause of his death, regardless of how he died, one person is ultimately responsible — Vladimir Putin.

Even if Navalny died of “natural causes”, the 47-year-old’s body was ravaged by the poisons and torture that Russian securocrats administered over the years until the day it broke. In his court appearances from prison, Navalny appeared emaciated. He was treated badly every step of the way, and many a stronger man would have broken long before.

A person holds a sign as they attend a torchlight procession in memory of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died on 16 February in a Arctic penal colony, the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, in Capitol Square, Rome, Italy, 19 February 2024. EPA-EFE/ANGELO CARCONI

It turns out that even Alexei Anatolyevich Navalny was mortal.

However, his defiance of dictatorship, his steadfastness in the face of evil and his fearless leadership will not be forgotten.

They will only grow with time. Putin killed a man, but he could not kill his spirit or the ideals for which he lived.

It is impossible not to see the similarity between the actions of the two regimes that the ANC itself is so well acquainted with — the National Party’s apartheid regime and Putin’s modern incarnation of the brutal and aggressively expansionist Russian empire.

Opposition leaders in both regimes were targets for persecution, arrests and jailing, often paired with vicious torture and cold-blooded assassinations. Journalists were jailed and sometimes murdered for doing their job. Wars were always of choice and neighbouring countries lived in fear of invasion.

Basic humanity was denied — including families’ requests for their loved ones’ bodies so they could be buried with dignity. Even people laying flowers in city centres were arrested and detained by the thugs from the security services.

How can one not see the similarity between the fate of those thrown from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square and the spate of defenestration deaths that appear to be one of Putin’s assassins’ signature techniques?

Or not compare the apartheid government’s widespread use of poisoning with the GRU’s seemingly free-flowing novichok, inside Russia and abroad?

How can one not recognise it was the same ink used to write the repertoires of exile, detainment and brutal, long-term jail sentences, so diligently used by both the National Party and the Putin regime?

Or the fact that elections were always an exercise of a small minority deciding who would be able to campaign and participate? Democracy in which the president himself chooses who will be allowed to oppose him in the coming elections is a mockery — just type Boris Nadezhdin in your search box.

And yet. And yet.

To Russia with love

“We, South Africa, stand with Russia as our friend and we make no apologies for that… We will never abandon you,” said ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula at the ridiculously described (the first “international inter-party forum against modern neo-colonialist practices”) and named (For Freedom of Nations) forum, as reported by Russia’s RIA Novosti.

Mbalula added that South Africa was ready to sacrifice its relationships with other friends for the sake of its friendship with Russia.

Read more in Daily Maverick: To Russia with Love and Hopeless Devotion, from Fikile Mbalula and the ANC

Even as the democratic world was reeling, the people running South Africa remained silent until, eventually, Dirco Minister Naledi Pandor issued a statement on Twitter via a spokesperson about her concern over Navalny’s death and hope that the people who killed him would investigate themselves thoroughly (my interpretation of her words, which I believe accurately reflects their essence).

South Africa is still not saying anything about Putin justifying Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939.

This contradiction, this 180-degree turn by the ANC, from being a mortal enemy of apartheid to supporting Putin and his violent, aggressive regime is beyond logic and understanding.

How can the ANC-directed South Africa hitch its wagon so tightly to a regime that so fundamentally opposes the values our modern society was built on?

And if any wise commentator reverts with “welcome to realpolitik”… the real realpolitik is based on certain attainable goals: enhanced economic cooperation, a strategic defence alliance, and prevention of war. The problem is, none of the issues is a threat to South Africa, and the Russian resource-based economy is not in a shape to especially help ours at this dire moment — it has massive problems of its own and as a minor trading partner can’t offer South Africa much anyway.

South Africa’s loyalty to the Russian president defies reason.

And it is plain dangerous for our future. Putin and Co have built a citadel of violence and aggression. They are a main vector of international instability and by far the most bellicose player on the African continent. They have corrupt and often inept factotums who maintain their wealthy lifestyle by keeping their population in poverty and information darkness. They do not flinch at expending hundreds of thousands of lives of their young people in a war of Putin’s incomprehensible choice.

Believing that these people can be anyone’s friends is just plain wrong. The sooner the ANC government admits it, the better. Condemning in no uncertain terms the Putin government for killing the opposition leader would be a good place to start.

At the end of the day, how much is this deafening silence worth to the ANC?

It is safe to say that Navalny will haunt Putin until his very last moment. The dictator may have built a regime that has crushed anything that even resembled democracy and accountability in Russia, but he won’t be able to rewrite his history. And this very same history will judge him harshly, as it did Hitler and Stalin.

Similarly, the ANC government’s relationship with Putin’s regime, the bunch that just killed their own Mandela, will haunt South Africa for a long time. This will not end well for us. DM

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  • 🆑 🆑 says:

    On “South Africa’s loyalty to the Russian president defies reason“ — it’s no mystery. It’s money and ideology. But mostly money.

    The diagnosis is clear: the ANC is morally barbarian.

    Frankly, it always has been, with exceptions. For the most part, the ANC is led by bullies. Like all bullies, their sheer stupidities are clear to see. That they are Putinists, simply demonstrates that again.

    But, okay, on 29 May they’re out on their bums. In the junk heap of history.

    Such a tragedy, the ANC. South Africa deserved better.

    • Vincent L says:

      You put into words exactly what I was thinking. Towards the end of every year the ANC struggles to keep Luthuli house afloat and then by some(sum;) miracle they’re flush again. I wonder if Putin will be putting as much effort into swaying our elections as he is doing with the US elections.

    • virginia crawford says:

      Morally barbarian: describes the apartheid regime, Nethanyahu and Guantanomo Bay perfectly. And the way the Afghans were abandoned was pretty barbaric too.

      • Ben Harper says:

        Hahahaha

      • Skerminkel the Third says:

        That may well be. One of the issues here is that the ANC (and most other liberation parties who ruined African countries) did not free themselves from oppression. They merely sold the family jewels to new masters, rather than negotiating alliances out of moral principles.
        We do not have to choose between USA/Brittain/NATO/Russia/China. We must select South Africa and African priorities first.

  • Nic Tsangarakis says:

    I entirely agree Branko. The hypocrisy is astoundingly obvious.

  • virginia crawford says:

    Appalling that AN was jailed and then killed. But comparing him to Mandela is not historically, factually or morally correct. He had some pretty offensive views and supported the invasion of Crimea 10 short years ago – Mandela held the moral high ground and spent 27 years in prison. Support Navalyny, criticise the Kremlin but hyperbole is just that, hyperbole. When former president Mohammed Morsi died in an Egyptian prison, there were no sanctions or grief: he had more supporters than Navalyny, was democratically elected etc. Very selective criticism obviously.

    • EK SÊ says:

      Mandela invaded Lesotho. He had some ugly friends and shared the Nobel prize with de Klerk. He wasn’t moral, he was opportunistic, like all politicians. And very naive. A man who can’t stay true to one woman couldn’t possibly stay true to millions of South African women. He WAS the man of the moment. That moment has passed. The tragedy is that being Mandela today will kill, figuratively & literally.

      • Ben Harper says:

        He was also responsible for the start of the plundering – arms deal anyone?

        • Chris le Montfort says:

          And who demanded money from whichever Head of State he was visiting on his “world tour”, not for South Africa but for the ANC ($10million from Sukarno in Indonesia for example) with something for himself, of course. Shades of Phala Phala.

          • Ben Harper says:

            It was the beginning of the end, to this day no one dare question where the sudden multiple millions came from

      • louis viljee says:

        May I suggest you take off your tinted glasses. And read Johnny Steinberg’s excellent Winnie and Nelson: portrait of a marriage. You may gain some greater insight.

    • SavageGas says:

      Then according to you, we are forever bound by our past, never to learn, change our minds, admit our mistakes, grow as people and move on to greater things. Nice one.

    • Rod H MacLeod says:

      Mandela did not occupy the moral high ground at all times. He advocated civilian killings in the early days of his struggle. In his last years, he acquiesced in the Arms Deal plunder.

      • Chris le Montfort says:

        Mandela always said: “I am no saint”. And he sure wasn’t. He was imprisoned for terrorism under the laws of South Africa at that time – however reprehensible and biased we may think them now.

    • Johan Roux says:

      An analogy does not have to be a carbon copy. During his years of imprisonment Mr Mandela changed his stance on many things, as did Mr Navalny.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Agree 100% with this and so well put. It absolutely beggars belief how rotten this vile anc is. It has trashed its values, human rights, the Constitution etc and sold its putrid soul to the highest bidder who happens to be a modern day evil mass-murderering monster like Stalin/Hitler. In the process, they have betrayed this country – nothing but a criminal, treasonous, parasitic and treacherous cabal of thieves and vermin. I have nothing but the utmost contempt, disgust and total revulsion for them.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    That abject hypocrisy of ANC on this is diabolically insulting to humankind. That ANC can stand in public space and insult the intelligence of South Africans is shameful, except they are without shame. Even Chikane can’t get the 97 to pitch for his disciplinary hearings; and ANC have the cheek to call EFF indisciplined. Show me a SA politician and you’ll see naked indiscipline across the board. Let’s hope the new parties bring some discipline to our nut case parliament.

    • Heinrich Holt says:

      “…insult the intelligence of South Africans…” should read “…insult intelligent South Africans…”. That is the problem. The ANC (and EFF together with some other smaller also runners) feed from the rest of South Africans, of which a good amount can’t read for meaning and the rest blinded by populism and greed, are sadly voting for the ANC because it is easy to convince them with drivel. To expect them to understand the excellence of this article supplemented with the insightful comments is unfortunately not going to sway their vote. One of the flaws of democracy is that one if its strengths is also one of its weaknesses. Every vote counts.

      • Belinda Cavero says:

        So very true. How the heck are we going to get the uneducated millions to see that voting ANC or EFF is morbid amputation for SA? Just the fact that most citizens wouldn’t be able to point to Russia on a map, let alone cause an outcry at ANC holding hands with Putin and his thugs, is a tragedy for us South Africans. God help us!

  • Peter Relleen says:

    Thank you, Branko.
    This needed to be said, if only for the record. It refreshed poor memories. An evil world is in its ascendancy.

  • Glenda Caine says:

    Surely Russia made its intentions in Africa clear through the actions of the now rebranded Wagner Group? It seems to be about money and dominance, focusing on shaky regimes where there are minerals and resources. ANC beware. You may be a soft target

  • Rae Earl says:

    The voters can only hope that a strong non-ANC party wins our election. It would then become incumbent on that party to reach out to the international community in the West and beg forgiveness for the ANC’s rotten affiliation with Putin and his gangsters. This is not South Africa’s monumental blunder, it is entirely the ANC’s and the country urgently needs to win back the fast disappearing friends we have built up since 1994. Failing that, we’re on the road to nowhere under the watchful eye of Putin who will eat us alive.

    • louis viljee says:

      Hope? Rather misguided when there is no credible opposition but only a bunch of egoists all wanting to be atop the pile with their noses in the trough.

  • Karel Martel says:

    Western coloured lenses see only the selective truths. It’s tiring and dated. Julian Assange is and Edward Snowden did more for the world but their voices are not heard. There are no articles in their favour in the West because the West exists only for their narrow nationalist interests and rejects opinions which differ. Theirs seems to be the only truth and the rest of the world a bag of petty liars.

  • EK SÊ says:

    Unlike Mandela, Navalny died for his beliefs.

  • Chris le Montfort says:

    Another of Lenin’s, now Putin’s, useful idiots. I am sure the the US Congress and Senate are taking note of Mbalula’s inane and fatuous comments on the basis that my enemy’s enemy is my friend but my enemy’s friend is my enemy too. So much for the ANCs much vaunted neutrality, on a par with their overt support for Hamas, even though the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are now demonstrating and telling Hamas to get the hell out. Perhaps that woman with a face like a mudslide, Naledi Pandor, should take notice of what the Palestinians really want, which is to be free of the tyranny of Hamas, instead of running every five minutes to the ICJ with another condemnation of Israel. But the ANC has always been rather fond of tyrants, from Stalin in the USSR, Honecker in East Germany, Castro in Cuba and jolly old King Shaka who decimated Zululand to the extent when the Boers arrived on their Great Trek, they found the land empty – and took it.

    • Michael Thomlinson says:

      Also funny how a lot of the comrades went to Russia (and Ukraine) for training but most exiles preferred to live in the west. The UK being a favorite one probably followed by the USA. Western countries broke the apartheid regime by applying sanctions but what did Russia do? Not much other than useless training (MK was never a threat to the SADF) and supplying rusty AK47s and RPGs. Now the ANC are anti west and licking Russias boots and it is not hard to see why – MONEY is the answer. The whole bunch should be tried for treason.

      • Ben Harper says:

        Welll, not so much. The West supported the Apartheid government as they needed them to prevent the soviet advances on the South and the Cape Sea Route, once the cold war was over and the soviet empire fell, they didn’t need to support the nats any longer, that’s when things started to change. m Had the cold war carried on longer, so would apartheid have

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    I had a good chuckle about that face like a mudslide! Best description ever of one so clueless, delusional and inept! You forgot to mention the many other paragons of decency, human rights, freedom etc. – Chavez/Maduro from Venezuela, Mugabe/Mnangagwa from Zimbabwe, Assad with a little help from Putin from Syria, Raisi/Khamenei from Iran, Omar Al Bashir from Sudan etc. And of course not just Stalin, but also very much so the evil mass-murdering monster Putin. A veritable gallery of the most vile and bloodthirsty murderers and hypocrites, and this is who/what our hideous anc worship, idolize and pay homage to!!

  • Ari Potah says:

    Coincidence:
    Two days before Navalny’s death he took receipt of a posted parcel of food? Why? Whoever claimed that Russian prisoners aren’t already well-fed.
    On Saturday at approximately 2:19 pm, Russia reported the death of convict Alexey Navalny in Prison Colony No. 3.
    Literally, 15 minutes later, a flurry of carbon-copy accusations poured in:
    – 3:10 pm Kyiv regime kingpin Zelensky: ‘Clearly, he was killed by Putin . . .
    – 3:43 pm, Ursula von der Leyen: ‘A grim reminder of what Putin and his regime are all about.’
    – 3:14 pm, Olaf Scholz: ‘He has now paid for this courage with his life. . . .
    – 3:25 pm, Antony Blinken: ‘ . . . his death in a Russian prison and the fixation and fear of one man . . . Russia bears responsibility for this.’
    – 5:28 pm, Emmanuel Macron: ‘In today’s Russia, free spirits are put in the Gulag and sentenced to death.’
    Within two hours (starting at 2:19 pm), Western politicians and their subordinate media managed, it appears, to get the results of a forensic examination that has yet to take place, to investigate, to indict Moscow and to render a verdict.
    There is no explanation other than to assume these responses were prepared in advance.
    What distinguishes all these statements is the glaring absence of even a suggestion of perhaps… waiting until the results of a forensic examination and investigation are available – and of course, asking the question as to just why President Putin would have wanted this non-entity to die. Qui bono??

  • Martin Smith says:

    How does the author regard Navalny’s video describing immigrants as cockroaches and calling for them to be shot? How does he regard Navalny’s participation in The Russian March? I’m not saying this man deserved to be murdered (if he was) but this uncritical acclamation of a fascist, even a brave one, is little more than propaganda. In Ukraine the death in custody of Gonzalo Lira is treated as nothing more than what he deserved; ditto the attempt to remove the US opposition leader from the ballot and jail him to stop him running for office. All OK nothing to see, nothing to ask. Unpleasant as Lira and Trump might be, they are no more so than Navalny, and in Trump’s case a good deal more popular with the electorate (Navalny struggled to pollmore than 2%) but the narrative is different, that’s all

  • Ajay San says:

    Good Bye Agoa, Hello sanctions. Move over Zimbabwe here comes S A!

  • L T. says:

    Good article Branko! Navalny could have been Russia’s Mandela if he had lived out his lifetime. Both men, of course, flawed human beings but hey even heroes make mistakes. The ANC are glued to their own terrorist past which was supported by many rogue nations including Russia. Their support for Putin and Hamas defies reason or logic but it is both mendacious and opportunistic. Will it come back to bite them – one can only hope.

  • Alan Thompson says:

    The ANC is not just morally bankrupt, but actually bankrupt. I would wager some investigative reporting could turn up some “Russian-linked” businesses who have donated to them. Add that to the combination of stupidity, ignorance, laziness and occasional desire to stick it to “the west” and this is what happens.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    What recently happened will haunt the ANC for a long time – but it depends how we as SA voters are going to react on 29 May that will decide whether it will haunt us. Are we going to kick the erstwhile anti-colonial ANC turned pro-Russian colonialist force under their butts? South Africa, it is time to decide.

  • Allan Wolman Wolman says:

    Pandor and the ANC have more important matters to deal with as far away as The Hague and both Pandor and virginia crawford have a common purpose and that’s the death of a nation. But eat your hearts out until you last breath as we will be here long after you’re both forgotten

  • Robert Pegg says:

    Regimes are known for crushing any opposition, no matter how small, just incase they grow and become a threat.
    Andre de Ruiter suffered a similar fate when he tried to expose corruption at Eskom. The regime tried to poison him, discredit him and block his every move to uncover corruption.
    Regimes all feed from the same trough.

  • Thys B says:

    Thanks Branko. All so true and I have no further comment to add, below lies a heap.

  • David Walker says:

    Dear Mr Brkic. We did not ‘look away’. You did not ‘look away’. I did not and neither did most of those concerned with freedom in South Africa. Please be clear – it was the ANC that ‘looked away’.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    All this “whoha”over the war started by Hamas whilst up to 100000 people killed in one Ukrainian city alone by Russia….. and not a peep from the South African government!!! Sis man!

  • Ivan van Heerden says:

    The ANC is now the central player in a global Bukake party. It will fellate whoever for some cash, a sad morally hollow whore on the world stage that has lost all credibility.

  • Bob Dubery says:

    I agree that Navalny was a thorn in Putin’s side, and that he was enormously courageous in returing to Russia where, as he knew, jail and/or another attempt on his life were likely outcomes. But it stops there. Navalny was no Mandela other than that he sought to displace a despot. He was not aligned with what we would consider broadly Western values. He was a white Russian nationalist with historic ties to anti-immigrant and especially anti-muslim sentiments. He considered the Crimea to be part of Russia, the same belief, beloved of Russian nationalists, that prompted Putin to first annext the Donbas and then, when there was no way out of that situation without disenchanting his nationalist support base, invaded the Ukraine. At a minimum, with Navalny in power, the annexure would still have happened.

    Navalny was only a friend of the West in the sense that your enemy’s enemy is your friend. But those friendships seldom last beyond the removal of the common enemy.

    So yes, it was wrong that he be jailed on trumped up charges. It was wrong that he was killed. Putin is a despot who wields enormous extra-judicial power. But how is Navalny comparable to Mandela?

  • Desmond Bob says:

    Since when does a racist Islamophobic like Alexei Navalny count as “a Nelson Mandela”. Your pro-western blinkers don’t allow you to see the flaws in the “heroes” the West manufacture for you. It will be very interesting to find out in which direction your moral compass is pointing on pertinent subjects such as; Julian Assange, Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning. The problem of pro Western intellectuals and journalist is that they face a crises of legitimacy brough about the double standards and constantly shifting moral principles. Alexei is dead, but we can still save Julian Assange; will we? What has the ANC government done about the fate of Julian Assange in its interactions and diplomatic relations with the British and US governments who are trying to silence the truth about their war crimes in Iraq?
    Even this comment, I will not be surprised if it does not see the light of day in these pages, objectivity and rational engagement don’t flourish here.

  • shane max says:

    If you are part of the ANC you should be ashamed

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