The death of Alexei Navalny as a signal to EU countries

Employment and Social Affairs

Estimated time of reading: ~ 2 minutes  

On the 16th of February, Russian authorities announced the death of Alexei Navalny in the infamous FKU IK-3 corrective colony in the Arctic Polar Circle. The same day, Western leaders were attending the Munich Security Conference, an important venue to discuss the evolution of global politics and, on this occasion, the two-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is hard to understate the will of Russian President Vladimir Putin to send a signal to its enemy in the West by publicly showing his ruthless power over political opponents, such as Navalny. European leaders must be aware of this, especially in the wake of the EU elections set for June. As Margaritis Schinas, the Vice President of the European Commission, recently stated, Russian parliamentary interference in the EU elections could endanger European societies, and the leaders should “keep a close eye” on attempts from Moscow to sway opinions ahead of the vote.

“This is about our democracy, about our values, about our way of life, and what we represent as Europeans in today’s world”, Schinas said, citing Russia as a “clear threat to our own security”. Russia can spread false or misleading information using social media and the internet, as its agents already did in the past and continue to do, in order to deepen the divide on internal issues in Europe. In this context, the EU is already facing many crises, from the energy one to the cost of living and, more recently, the protests from workers in the agriculture sector. Russia can work on these weak spots as a way to destabilise political sentiment before the elections and promote parties that adhere to the Kremlin’s view on different issues, first of all the war in Ukraine. With far-right and far-left populist parties getting more seats in the European Parliament, Vladimir Putin and his regime could find a broader space of manoeuvre in EU politics and influence the decision-making process in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Written by: Francesco Marino

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