Russia's most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was released from hospital on Monday and returned to prison at the request of his doctor.
The critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was hospitalized Sunday from his Moscow jail after suffering an "allergic reaction" after being exposed to an unknown "toxin". He is currently serving a 30-day sentence for calling an illegal demonstration in Russia, where police have detained more than 1,000 people. Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead outside the Kremlin in 2015.
Who is Alexei Navalny?
Navalny, a former anti-corruption lawyer, appeared as a force in Russian politics in 2008 when he began blogging Alleged misconduct and corruption among some state-controlled companies in the country.
He was introduced to the message that Putin's United Russia was "a party of crooks and thieves," a phrase first coined in February 201
In 2011, he spoke at one of the largest anti-government rallies in post-Soviet Russia, attended by up to 120,000 people.
"He showed people there was a problem with the corrupt apparatus that is faithful to Putin," said Maxim Goryunov, a Russian radio journalist at Euroradio, who took part in the protests.
During the demonstration, Navalny was arrested and detained for 15 days.
Navalny was briefly imprisoned again in July 2013 and charged with embezzling wood worth $ 263,000. In this case, he was sentenced to five years in prison – a decision that is generally considered politically motivated. The European Court of Human Rights stated that the politician had not received a fair hearing.
In a retrial in 2017, he was convicted for a second time and sentenced to a five-year suspended sentence, which prevented him from taking on Putin in the 2018 presidential election. Nawalny has repeatedly denounced the allegations, claiming his legal problems Reprisals against the Kremlin for its criticism of the regime.
Nawalny's followers also had legal problems.
Protests in May 2018 against Putin's fourth inauguration have accused eight of the authorities The Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation, which provokes riots and uses their tweets and retweets as evidence. Many were sentenced to fines and some to 30 days in jail.
Navalny now has offices throughout Russia with more than 2,000 volunteers working to spread his message.
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The opposition politician has found support among the younger Russian generation, mainly because of his presence in social media, in which he makes fun of the political elite.
"He's really popular and it's no surprise why," according to Ben Noble, a professor of Russian politics at University College London (UCL).
Navalny, due to his "charisma", simple messages and clever style of communication, can appeal to different groups that have no other contradictions. The politician has succeeded, he said.
Meanwhile, a new report by the Free Russia Foundation showed that Putin's support among people between the ages of 17 and 25 has dropped dramatically over the past decade.
Young Russians are becoming increasingly aware that corruption and nepotism are contributing to their economic insecurity, "wrote Vladimir Milov, an expert on the Free Russia Foundation.
Navalny's YouTube channel revealing the alleged corruption of high-ranking government officials has more to offer than 2.8 million subscribers.
"It's the most watched political content in Russia," said Noble of UCL.
Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation reveals corruption in the Russian government and fights, presents carefully researched reports are difficult to refute, "he added.
Alex, a 22-year-old student and Navalny supporter from Moscow, also credited Navalny's social media presence with reaching young people.
"He shows determination and honesty."
Navalny had critics in the anti-Putin camp who considered him too nationalist.
He not only visited the far-right "Russian March" in December 2017, but he also made a series of racist statements, including the term "rodents" of the Georgians during the Russian war with Georgia in 2008 and the comparison of migrants with "Insects".
Since then he has apologized for using the racist epithets
. Navalny at risk on Putin
He is an "existential threat to the Kremlin," Noble said, because he shows that it is possible that another politician is a popular candidate in a system that has been de facto Putin since 2000 to be led.
Navalny's ability to appeal to nationalists is of particular concern to Putin, who himself "pursues a nationalist agenda," said Goryunov of Euroradio.
He is the only opposition politician who represents a legitimate alternative to Putin, said Anton Barbashin, Editor-in-Chief of Riddle Russia.
"People look at him and believe he can take control, which gives him an advantage over other liberal politicians," he added.
With his accessible communication strategy, he is able to address those who support Putin today and become increasingly dissatisfied with the current regime, Noble said. The Center for Social Rights and Labor Law, based in Russia, is characterized by general dissatisfaction, and of a sluggish one Economic growth, a decline in disposable income and a deeply unpopular attempt to raise the retirement age.
According to Noble, this is the Kremlin's biggest fear. Nawalny could "unite" the activities of those who have "economic grievances" against the state, including "striking miners, striking teachers, and (and) truckers," who traditionally support Put
Despite the fact that freedom of assembly in Russia has been gradually reduced since 2012, observers say the Russians are not afraid to protest against social problems such as benefit cuts.
"Given the special conditions" Navalny could flare up A mass demonstration, Noble said. "And the Kremlin does not want to see a repeat of the protests in 2011-2012."
Navalny is a figure that "the state knows it needs to be closely monitored," Barbashin said.