INSIDE a modern business centre in Moscow, of the kind that has mushroomed across Russia in the 17 years that Vladimir Putin had been in power, a team of 30-year-olds are making plans to replace the president with Aleksei Navalny, a 41-year-old former lawyer and anti-corruption crusader. Perched on the edge of white desks or lounging on red bean bags, Mr Navalny’s team exude youthful confidence as they discuss last-minute preparations for a big rally. It all looks like a normal presidential election campaign. Indeed, Mr Navalny’s staff have studied the methods of American candidates such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. But this being Russia, nothing is what it seems.
For a start, the campaign for Russia’s presidential election in 2018 has not yet begun. Once it does, Mr Navalny is unlikely to get on the ballot. A trumped-up conviction for embezzlement in 2013, though dismissed by the European Court of Human Rights, bars him from being registered. If that was not enough to put him…Continue reading