Conspiracy Theories

The blood of Navalny is on Putin and a newcomer needs not to deal with a popular leader. So is it possible that a plot is in preparation against Putin? Endless conspiracy theories can be produced when it comes to Russia.

Izzet Enünlü

Izzet Enünlü



Conspiracy Theories

collage: Radio Svoboda

A week short from the second anniversary of the war, the Ukrainian army abandoned the city Avdiivka to the Russian forces. Although the retreat came after the intensification of the Russian assault in October 2023, the battle for the city was ongoing intermittently for almost ten years. Appointment of General Oleksandr Syrskyi who was previously responsible for the defence of the City Bakhmut, had caused distress in Ukraine that the city would continue to be defended in the shortage of ammunition relying on the sacrifice of soldiers' lives.

Another development of the week was the death of a leader of the Russian opposition, Alexei Navalny in a maximum security Arctic penal colony. The death of Navalny left the Russian opposition without a strong leader.

Navalny had ill health since he was poisoned with Novichok nerve agent three years ago and was held in abusive prison conditions. There was no doubt that President Putin was not scrupulous for his survival and the political prisoner was not expected to be free as long as the President was in power.

Our brain has evolved to search for patterns from the information we receive to take advantage of linking it to a previous memory/knowledge. So with the death of a prominent Russian opposition leader in captivity, an election in Russia that will secure the Presidential seat till 2030, and an ongoing war that shakes the status quo in Europe and possibly in the world, is there a pattern that will prove that these observations will lead us to understand what is going on?

When our brain tries to form a pattern from observations in the absence of concrete knowledge of the full picture, it inevitably falls in the trap of confirmation bias, which is the tendency to interpret information in the way that confirms or supports one's beliefs.

So, was the death of the opposition leader arranged by Putin? Navalny continued to organise and inspire opposition from even the isolation of the prison. It is true that Putin did not care if he stayed alive as he was subjected to abuse, let alone receive appropriate treatment. Probably, his idea for the opposition to vote at noon could present a challenge for an unsecure President who is increasingly unpopular because of the progress of the war. So, if one is inclined that war is going badly for Russia could interpret that his death was arranged to inflict hopelessness to the opposition.

However, if the war is not going so bad for Putin as his war economy gains pace and stalemate is lost in favour of Russia with the lost Avdiivka, he could be demonstrating who is the boss. In any case, our brain assumes that the timing of the death is not a coincidence. If it was not coincidence it had to be that his nemesis arranged his demise by initiating his transfer to a remote penal Arctic colony.

In fact, Navalny was a walking dead man from the time he took the plane to Moscow. Even if Putin were removed from power, it is highly unlikely that it will be by a democratic revolution. Most probably another autocrat will replace his place and they would be even less inclined to release a rival from the prison. Now, the blood of Navalny is on Putin and a newcomer needs not to deal with a popular leader. So is it possible that a plot is in preparation against Putin? Endless conspiracy theories can be produced when it comes to Russia.

On the other hand, in the West changes are easier to understand. Europe began to shake off its lethargy thanks to the former US president Trump’s NATO statements. During the last day of the Munich Security Conference 2024, Denmark dramatically announced their decision to donate their entire artillery to Ukraine and pointed out that the ammunition necessary for Ukraine is in the storage of the arsenals of Europe. The loss of Avdiivka most certainly strengthened the necessity for urgent delivery of ammunition without waiting ramping up the production.

On the other hand, the death of Navalny, actually may have released the opposition leader stronger from the prison. While his widow vowed to continue his fight against the Kremlin, time will yet to show if she will be able to provide a new body to the deceased leader. One wonders if his return back to Russia was not the impulsive idealism strengthened by a strong sense of duty spiced with a dash of delusion of grandeur, but a careful and strategic move that required a sacrifice.

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