By mistreating and possibly poisoning the prisoner Aleksej Navaljnyj, the Russian authorities are merely reinforcing the Western public’s perception that the concept of justice simply does not exist in Russia.
No matter what you or I think about Navaljnyj’s political views, he is not suspected of having killed anybody, or of having turned “customers” into helpless drug addicts or even of having raped a child. Such crimes, had he committed any of them, might have justified the nine-year prison sentence, with which he has been saddled. He has only been convicted of the sort of financial activities regularly committed with impunity by the filthy rich. Moreover, he is said to be kept, not in a “prison”, but in a “labour camp”, whatever that means.
Of course the Russian authorities have every reason to laugh – even guffaw – over Western sensibilities. I shall not even mention the innumerable school (and other mass ) shootings and deplorable health conditions in US America, merely limit myself to pointing out that you need not be in prison to get killed, one way or another. I do, however, want to stress that Western suppression of investigative journalists and whistle blowers is increasingly reminiscent of what has hitherto been considered more typical of Russia and China.
Suppression of fact, current or historical, is basically unsustainable. The suppressed fact will sooner or later catch up with the suppressor or his/her descendants. And there is no vouching for the good behaviour of those who have been duped.
Take military expenditure: According to Sipri, 2.2 percent of global GNP went to military expenditure in 2022. That’s quite a lot of money not being used on health services or education. 39% of that military expenditure was US American, 13% was Chinese and 3.9% Russian. A lot of people are being duped pretty seriously, wouldn’t you say? A lot of people are going to be, sooner or later, very very angry. But the Western powers have counted on the general public’s tagging along nicely, led by a nose ring.
Indeed, so far, the Western powers’ suppression of fact has duly had the effect of discombobulating and paralysing the general public.
It has also had the effect of turning Julian Assange into a martyr, a saint. Now I very much doubt that the long-suffering man ever intended or wanted to be considered a saint, but there you are. His name is emblazoned on banners and heads “Free Assange” petitions all over the world. Even The Guardian (a paper that in my opinion stabbed Assange in the back some years ago) acknowledges the importance of his case. It is, in fact, a test case. If Assange is convicted, Russia will rightly be able to say: You, the West, are no better than us.
But beware, Mr Lavrov: You are quoted as having rejected the notion that journalists do not commit crimes. While I always enjoy your elegant irony, I advise that you desist from antagonising journalists, be they Russian or Western. After all, there are journalists on this side of the ugly curtain who are doing their utmost to present an alternative to the prevailing US/NATO narrative about the Ukraine war. While they are not your allies, they are not your worst foes either. And while you may consider Navaljnyj a pain in the ass, he will not go away even if he dies. On the contrary, he will haunt the Russian authorities for years to come, if for no other reason because journalists on this side of the ugly curtain will find it less risky to revile your country than to revile their own. I am sure you can understand that.