Do Not Mourn Alexei Navalny

Adam Marletta
6 min readFeb 27, 2024

American liberals are more outraged and saddened over the death of one white Nazi in Russia than the slaughter of nearly 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza. That is the apparent takeaway from the liberal outcry over the recent death of Russian “dissident,” Alexei Navalny.

Navalny was found dead in a Russian prison on February 16, where he was serving a 19-year prison sentence on charges of “extremism.” Navalny was 47-years-old. The exact cause of death is unknown.

But that did not stop Western capitalist media outlets and President Joe Biden from jumping to the conclusion — without a trace of evidence — that Vladimir Putin had Navalny assassinated. The press is now hailing Navalny as a “brave dissident,” speaking out for “democracy” and “human rights.” Navalny was frequently described as “Russia’s Nelson Mandela.”

Navalny was a Nazi and a CIA Agent

But Navalny was no valiant freedom-fighter. Nothing of the sort, in fact. Navalny was a virulent racist, anti-Semite, and Nazi sympathizer. He frequently referred to Arabs as “cockroaches.” Consider the following video produced by the white nationalist, National Russian Liberation Movement. In the video, Navalny poses as an “insect control specialist,” offering different remedies to keep one’s home clean of insects. For “cockroaches” that are “too big,” and “flies” that are “too aggressive,” Navalny suggests utilizing a handgun. He does so while standing next to an image of four men who appear to be Arab.

Aren’t such racism and xenophobia the very traits we are supposed to deplore in Donald Trump…? Isn’t that why liberals insist that we all “Vote Blue No Matter Who”? Why the double standard?

More significantly, Navalny has long been credibly suspected of being an undercover CIA asset working to stir up unrest within Russia against Putin’s government. Navalny’s activist “nonprofit,” Democratic Alternative, received funding from the U.S. government agency, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Rather than Mandela, Navalny, in truth, had more in common with Venezuela’s Juan Guaido — another U.S. regime-change agent. And before you dismiss Navalny’s credible ties to U.S. Intelligence as “Russian propaganda,” consider this video in which Vladimir Ashurkov, a close associate of Navalny, meets with British M16 officer, James William Thomas Ford. In the video, Ashurkov requests funding of $10 — $20 million a year to continue promoting a “color revolution” in Russia.

This is why Navalny was in prison. He represented a threat to Russia’s internal security. The U.S. (the country with the largest prison population on Earth) would have treated him no differently. But it is Russia that is labelled “authoritarian.”

Russians: “Alexei who…?”

Ironically, Western liberals’ fawning adoration for Navalny was not shared by the Russian people. As Glenn Greenwald explains in a recent edition of his nightly broadcast, System Update, Navalny was a “minuscule figure” in Russian society and politics.

Navalny’s unregistered liberal political party, Russia for the Future (formerly, the People’s Alliance) was basically a non-entity in Russian politics. The party — which espoused standard liberal, pro-Western views — polled at less than two percent among Russian voters in the lead up to the 2018 presidential election, according to Reuters.

According to the article, “…many Russians, who still get much of their news from state TV, say they do not know who [Navalny] is.”

Navalny fared better when he ran for mayor of Moscow in 2013, garnering around 27 percent of the vote. Yet even then, most of Navalny’s support came from upper-middle class Russian oligarchs and “radical,” pro-West college students.

Wait… Hold up. A political rival to the ruling Russian establishment is thrown in jail, likely on trumped up charges... Why does this scenario sound so familiar…?

Indeed, the only difference between Navalny and Donald Trump is that the latter poses a real threat to the presidential incumbent’s re-election prospects. Navalny, and his party, on the other hand, never represented a serious challenge to Putin. In fact, Putin’s greatest political foe remains the Communist Party of Russia.

“Leftists” Mourn “Brother Navalny”

Sadly, even members of the ostensible “left” are echoing the U.S. media’s baseless propaganda about Navalny.

Presidential candidate cosplayer, and anticommunist, Cornel West, tweeted a eulogy for Navalny on Feb. 16 in which West, ludicrously, compared Navalny to Mummia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier. (Seriously, it just keeps getting worse and worse with West. Had the man never launched this pseudo, pretend presidential campaign I would still think highly of him.)

Elsewhere, Russian-American journalist, Masha Gessen, appeared on the erstwhile independent news show, Democracy Now! to assure viewers she/they has “no doubt,” Putin had Navalny killed. (Gessen is trans.) Gessen offers no evidence for this claim — nor does host, Amy Goodman press Gessen for any.

Gessen, a proponent for the U.S.’s continued support of the Ukraine war, claims to have known Navalny personally, and, throughout the interview, offers nothing but praise for the man. While Gessen takes issue with Navalny’s “prior” far-right, xenophobic views, she insists that he “really had moved as far away from his early political views as I think a person can.”

Look, I do not want to discount the possibility that people can genuinely change and renounce their former reactionary beliefs. But in the case of an opportunist figure like Navalny — who was literally on the CIA payroll — it seems more likely that he simply adopted whatever politics seemed most beneficial at the time. It is more than likely that Navalny did not truly hold any genuine political views of his own. However, such abject political calculation does not excuse reprehensible ideas.

That said, Gessen, again, is a supporter of funding Nazis in Ukraine. She has already demonstrated that fascism is not a “deal-breaker” for her.

Neither Gessen, nor Goodman, it is worth noting, uttered a word about Gonzalo Lira, an American citizen married to a Ukrainian, who was jailed for his opposition to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and NATO. Lira died in a Ukrainian prison, on January 12. According to U.S. media, Lira was not a reporter, but a spreader of “Russian propaganda.” He was, to use Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s phrase, an “unworthy victim.” Navalny, however, is a “worthy victim.”

And Jacobin magazine (the unofficial newspaper of the Democratic Socialists of America) published a glowing piece on Navalny’s “movement” on Feb. 20, titled “Alexei Navalny Taught Russia’s Opposition How to Mobilize.” The article, written by Ilya Budraitskis, is entirely in keeping with Jacobin/DSA’s primary focus on electoral politics as the chief driver of class struggle.

“Against the backdrop of increasing repression and the spread of apathy and conformity in Russian society, in an opaque electoral system manipulated from above,” writes Budraitskis, “Navalny showed that even such elections can be used as a powerful expression of protest and politicization of broad layers of society.” But, again, given Navalny’s near total irrelevance in Russian politics, what “broad layers” did he inspire…?

“Russiagate”: The Liberal Conspiracy Theory that Just Won’t Die

Navalny’s assassination comes during a particularly fraught moment in U.S.-Russia relations. “Russiagate” — the baseless, thoroughly discredited ruling-class hoax that Russian leaders covertly “interfered” with the 2016 presidential election, resulting in Trump’s win — remains alive and well, particularly among U.S. liberals. I have liberal relatives who remain absolutely convinced that Trump is a Manchurian Candidate-style Russian asset who “stole” the election from Hillary Clinton.

This is, sadly, what happens when all of your news comes from MS(DNC). To date, none of the corporate news pundits and outlets that spread the “Russiagate” hysteria (celebrity reporter, Rachel Maddow, most prominently among them) have offered retractions, corrections, or apologies for peddling this propaganda. As a result, liberals hate Russia just as much as the MAGA-right hates China.

Congress continues to funnel billions of dollars into the U.S.-Russia proxy war in Ukraine, despite the fact that, two years into the conflict, Ukraine has all but lost. Most geopolitical experts concur there is no realistic way Ukraine can defeat the Russian military. A negotiated peace is the only plausible outcome.

Meanwhile, working-class families here in the U.S. continue to struggle with the exorbitant costs of rent, housing, and stubbornly high food prices. Recall that the elites’ entire argument against Bernie Sanders’ social-democratic agenda was that it was “too expensive” to implement. “How are you going to pay for all of that?” pundits consistently pressed him on the campaign trail. Yet there are no such monetary concerns when it comes to financing endless war and empire. Somehow, the money is always readily available. No questions asked. Funny how that works, isn’t it…?

All of which is to say: Navalny is no hero of “democracy.” Russia is not our enemy. China is not our enemy. Your immigrant coworker and your single-mother neighbor are not your enemies. Our enemies are the ruling-class. Our enemies are the bourgeoisie — the wealthy who own the means of production. But the ruling-class’s divide-and-conquer propaganda has us all so busy fighting each other that we fail to unite in solidarity against our true enemy: Capitalism.



Adam Marletta

Writer, socialist, and coffee-fiend. I have written for the West End News, Socialist Worker, a bunch of decidedly less interesting publications.