Audio content: A rousing political speech by leading opposition figure Aleksei Navalny
Visual content: Navalny speaking on stage
Video at tvrain.ru
20 September 2015
Aleksei Navalny has been in the news again lately as his organization Anti-Corruption Foundation / Фонд борьбы с коррупцией has been aggressively targeting Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika / генеральный прокурор Юрий Чайка. The Foundation recently produced a film charging that Chaika’s sons have ties with violent criminal organizations in the Krasnodar region, and the resulting scandal has garnered considerable attention. This is just the latest campaign by Navalny, who has a long history as an anti-corruption activist and opposition politician. It’s difficult to sum up Navalny’s activity in just a few sentences. He is best known for founding the above-mentioned website and non-profit foundation that seeks to expose corruption in Russian business and government. He has also run for office – in 2013 he received 27 percent of the vote in an election for mayor of Moscow, which is a much higher percentage than is usually received by politicians not affiliated with the dominant United Russia / Единая Россия party.
Navalny has also been the defendant in more than one criminal case. In late 2013 he was convicted of having embezzled funds from a state firm during his time as advisor to the governor of the Kirov region, and received a five-year prison term that was soon commuted to a probationary sentence. He is also currently under investigation for fraud committed against the Russian branch of the cosmetics firm Yves Rocher, and his brother Oleg is in prison for convictions related to this case. Most human rights organizations view these charges as unfounded and conclude that the criminal prosecutions of the Navalny family are part of an effort to suppress political dissent in Russia. As a convicted criminal, Navalny is now legally prohibited from running for office in Russia, but he continues to organize and speak at opposition political rallies. Although he is one of the most well-known and popular opposition figures, his support among opponents of Putin is of course not universal. He has been criticized for nationalist views.
Today’s video gives you a taste of Navalny’s persona and political convictions. The video is of Navalny’s speech at an opposition rally / митинг in September 2015. The theme of the rally was “За сменяемость власти” / “For the changeability of power.” It took place just a few days after regional elections in which Putin’s United Russia party was victorious in all but one unresolved contest. Candidates from a coalition of opposition parties had been kept off the ballots in all but one or two regions, and they ultimately received only 2.6 percent in the election that was the focus of most of their effort (in the Kostroma region). This rally is meant to communicate a continued determination to fight for an open, competitive democratic process in Russia. Mass demonstrations in Russia must be officially approved or else participants are subject to arrest. Event organizers had hoped to hold this rally in the Moscow city center, but it was ultimately approved for Marino / Марьино, a residential neighborhood on the southern outskirts of Moscow. According to the most reliable available estimates, about 7,000 people attended. It was raining that evening and the sound system was weak; in the video we see Navalny fighting against these conditions to the point of hoarseness.
Заметки о языке: Navalny speaks in the casual, accessible style appropriate for a charismatic political leader. At the same time his speech is that of a well-educated person. Note his use of “ты” to emphasize solidarity among all members of the movement and the conversational style of words like the emphatic particle “то” or the preposition “про.” He also employs repetition to structure his speech, excite the crowd and sear his message in their memory. Navalny’s language is relatively simple in structure and word choice.
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0:00-0:40 Rallying the crowd
Здесь есть кто-то с запада Москвы? Мы приедем к ним! Здесь есть кто-то с востока Москвы? Приедем к ним! Здесь есть кто-то из центра Москвы? Мы придём, куда надо, и сделаем так, что рано или поздно все желающие смогут в том числе проводить митинги, мероприятия в центре города, который принадлежит им, в любом городе России. В этом смысл нашей борьбы, в том числе. Потому что это всё принадлежит нам.
Translation: Is there anyone here from western Moscow? We will come to them! Is there anyone here from eastern Moscow? We will come to them! Is there anyone here from central Moscow? We will go where needed, and we will make it so that, sooner or later, all who desire will be able to, among other things, hold rallies and events in the center of the city, which belongs to them, in any Russian city. This is the point of our battle, among other things. Because all that belongs to us.
[Navalny describes how he was campaigning in the Kostroma region (northeast of Moscow) and told the residents of one village that their town is run by the mafia. People thanked him afterwards for speaking frankly. Now he is going to add one additional detail that he hasn’t shared publicly yet:]
1:30-3:25 An optimistic, motivational speech and declaration of their shared mission:
Вот эту часть я рассказывал в других городах Костромы. Но полностью история заключается в том, что там же, ко мне подходили люди и говорили: “Алексей, ты сказал всё правильно, но изменить ничего нельзя.” Поэтому я хочу здесь сказать, в первую очередь о том, что наша с вами борьба – это не борьба между нами и Единой Россией. Или даже не борьба между нами и Путиным. Это борьба между теми, кто знает, что плохо, и верит в то, что можно изменить, и борьба между теми, кто знает, что плохо, и не верит, что изменить что-то можно. Вот я приветствую здесь людей, которые верят, верят в лучшее, которые знают, что плохое не навсегда, что хэппи-энды не только в голливудских фильмах, что сама жизнь так устроена! Что прогресс побеждает. Что творчество побеждает упырей. Что наука побеждает тех, кто ворует диссертации. Что те, кто не боится выйти на митинг, побеждает тех, кто сидит как клопы по своим щельям. Наша миссия, друзья мои, работать с теми, кто не верит. Вы можете подойти к любому полицейскому, который охраняет митинг и спросить у него: “Ну, тебе нравится то, что 84 процента национального богатства России контролируют десять семей?” И полицейский вам скажет: “Конечно, не нравится! Но изменить-то ничего нельзя.” Можно, и мы изменим!
Translation: I related that part [of the story] in other cities in Kostroma. But in its full form the story consists of the fact that, right there, people came up to me and said: “Aleksei, everything you said is correct, but it’s impossible to change anything.” Therefore I want to say here, above all, that our shared battle is not a battle between us and United Russia (the party affiliated with Putin). Or not even a battle between us and Putin. It is a battle between those who know that things are bad and believe that it is possible to change [things], and a battle between those who know that things are bad and do not believe that it is possible to change something. I greet here the people who believe, believe in something better, who know that the bad stuff is not forever, that happy endings are not just in Hollywood films, that life itself is set up that way! That progress is victorious. That creativity conquers the vampires. That learning conquers those who steal [i.e. plagiarize] dissertations. That those who are not afraid to come out for a rally win out over those who sit like bedbugs in their crevices. Our mission, my friends, is to work with those who do not believe. You can walk up to any policeman who is guarding this rally and ask him: “Well, do you like the fact that 84 percent of the national wealth of Russia is controlled by ten families?” And the policeman will say to you: “Of course I don’t like it! But it’s impossible to change anything.” It is possible, and we will change [things]!
[Navalny declares that the high percentages won by the ruling party in the elections are baseless, and that one day we’ll look back and laugh at them. He notes that his claims about corruption have been proven true, since the the governor of Komi province, who recently won reelection with more than 80 percent of the vote, was recently charged with corruption.]
4:35-5:10 Navalny explains his plan in simple terms.
Очень часто мне говорят: “Значит, Навальный, будет митинг! И ты должен прийти на этот митинг и сказать, какой у тебя план, какой у нас всех план.” Я вам хочу рассказать про свой план, личный. Мой план в том, чтобы во всём том, что происходит, попытаться остаться приличным человеком. Это крайне сложно на фоне того, что происходит сейчас. Но с другой стороны легко.
Translation: Often people say to me: “So, Navalny, there will be a rally. And you should come to this rally and say what plan you have, what plan we all have.” I would like to tell you about my plan, my personal [plan]. My plan is this: amid all that which is happening, to make an attempt to remain a decent person. That is extremely difficult against the backdrop of everything that is happening now. But on the other hand it is simple.
[Navalny specifies that his plan involves speaking his opinions openly. He makes some inflammatory statements: that the opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was ordered killed by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and that Pskov Governor Turchak ordered the beating of journalist Oleg Kashin, He also says he plans to combat censorship and do what he can to support independent news sources. He makes an obvious reference to Телеканал Дождь, which is the source for many of the videos on this site. He plans to run for office when it is possible and boycott elections when the opposition is excluded. The crowd shouts support whenever he asks them if they support his plan.]
7:35-8:20 Optimistic faith in the power of truth.
Мы с вами верим в то, что правда сильнее лжи. И приличный человек, говорящий правду, он сильнее лжеца, который закрыт ОМОНом, стенами, и так далее. Мы знаем, что приличные люди победят рано или поздно. Мы знаем, что основание поступка должно быть моральным. И каждый раз, когда мы спросим себя, что же нам нужно сделать, нужно просто ответить себе: “Сделать то, что делают приличные люди в этой ситуации.”
Translation: You and I believe that truth is stronger than a lie. And a decent person, speaking the truth, he is stronger than a liar who is closed off by special forces, by walls, and so on. We know that decent people win out sooner or later. We know that the foundation of an action should be a moral [foundation]. And every time when we ask ourselves what we need to do, we need to simply give ourselves this answer: “To do that which decent people do in this situation.”
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