In early December, Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny posted several articles, a film, and a series of infographics exposing illegal businesses belonging to Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika. The film has been viewed on YouTube over 3 million times, but analysts doubt Moscow will dismiss any of the implicated parties.
Navalny explains that his fund started the investigation when his employees discovered multiple businesses and properties belonging to Chaika’s son in Greece.
“In our report, we presented all the evidence and asked that Chaika and other high-level officials of the Prosecutor General’s office resign. A high-level investigation at the state level should be launched into these discovered businesses and properties,” he adds.
Chaika made a statement accusing Navalny’s fund of attempting to frame him. Chaika’s lawyer, Ivan Zhdanov, says the two will be taking Navalny to court.
“He should try to prove what he is claiming in that film in the court,” he says. Following these declarations, a number of Russian officials issued statements of support for Chaika while attacking Navalny.
Russian political scientist Vladimir Slatinov says that this behavior is not atypical of Russian authorities.
“It is the habit of the Russian Kremlin to react to any type of criticism. They would never try to actually address the issue or answer the question. Instead, Russian officials would just attack whoever is criticizing them and avoid any opportunity to troubleshoot,” he says.
“Even if Navalny is able, which is very unlikely, to prove that what his fund published about Chaika is true, nobody will do anything to follow up on this issue. The courts in Russia are not free, and therefore we shouldn’t even expect that Navalny will be allowed to present the real facts and defend himself. But even if the court procedures allowed that and Navalny proved 100% the guilt of Chaika, this would still change nothing,” says lawyer Denis Konstantinov.
According to Konstantinov, this is due to Moscow’s status as an authoritarian regime, which relies more heavily on personal relations than on government institutions.
“This is not a system or a government that relies on real processes and cares for honesty and justice. The highest-level officials themselves don’t follow these rules of justice, so why would they care about Chaika’s illegal funds, properties, and businesses? And it’s not like president Putin or other high-level officials didn’t know about it. Nothing is going to change, and nobody will be fired,” he laments.