In This Review

Navalny: Putin’s Nemesis, Russia’s Future?
Navalny: Putin’s Nemesis, Russia’s Future?
By Jan Matti Dollbaum, Morvan Lallouet, and Ben Noble
Hurst, 2021, 280 pp

Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief political opponent, gained global recognition after he was poisoned in 2020. He returned to Russia after convalescing in Germany and was promptly arrested, instantly becoming Russia’s most prominent political prisoner. This is the first English-language book about Navalny, following his journey from an anticorruption activist to a street protest organizer to an anti-Kremlin politician. The authors describe Navalny as Russia’s “second most important politician,” a man of courage, creativity, and wit, endowed with a natural political talent and a knack for modern communications (“He is who he is because of the Internet,” they write). But they admit that his popularity is limited outside his core constituency of younger Russians and those who don’t support Putin. The book weaves Navalny’s story with sharp insights into the nature of Russia’s authoritarian regime. For curious readers who don’t know much about Russia, this book does a sterling job of explaining how corruption secures Putin’s rule instead of eroding it, why support for Putin still remains broad (most Russians are wary of change and see Putin as a guarantor of stability), and why, according to the authors, Navalny’s current imprisonment marks a perilous step for Russia toward full-fledged dictatorship.