Navalny Book Summary - Navalny Book explained in key points
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Navalny summary

Jan Matti Dollbaum, Morvan Lallouet and Ben Noble

Putin's Nemesis, Russia's Future?

4.4 (187 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

'Navalny' by 'Jan Matti Dollbaum, Morvan Lallouet and Ben Noble' is the first English-language biography of the charismatic Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

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    For two decades, Alexei Navalny has shaken up the complex world of Russian politics.

    Sunday, January 17, 2021. Alexei Navalny is departing Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport en route back to his home country of Russia. On board, an inquisitive journalist leans in and asks, “Aren’t you afraid?”

    Of course, the 44-year-old politician has reason to be wary. Just months earlier, Navalny had become deathly ill in what many suspect was an intentional poisoning conducted at the behest of the Kremlin. And when he finally touches down in Moscow, he’s likely to be detained by the Russian police.

    Still, Navalny presents an air of quiet optimism. He’s spent years pushing for political reform in his country, and he doesn’t plan to stop any time soon.

    The key message here is: For two decades, Alexei Navalny has shaken up the complex world of Russian politics. 

    Alexei Navalny was born on June 4, 1976 in the village of Butyn, a small hamlet on the western outskirts of Moscow. His mother was an accountant and his father a decorated officer in the Soviet Army. During his youth, Russia was still part of the Soviet Union, though the Navalny family weren’t supporters of the Soviet system. By the age of 17, Navalny had already identified himself as a political liberal, and when the USSR fell in 1991, he was optimistic. He hoped the rupture would usher in an economic system centered on a free-market and a political order beholden to democratic principles. Beginning in 1993, he studied law and economics at the People’s Friendship University of Russia and, after graduation, began a lucrative career in banking, stock trading, and real estate development.

    By the beginning of the new millennium, Navalny was wealthy and well-connected, and he began cultivating a public persona in the world of politics. Since then, he’s presented himself as a practical, no-nonsense family man who has straddled the line between progressive and nationalist politics. While he espouses an array of liberal views, such as support for same-sex marriage, he also takes more conservative stances on issues like immigration. 

    For the past two decades, Navalny has constantly agitated for change in Russia’s notoriously complex political arena. He’s earned a reputation as an idealistic anti-corruption activist, and, in 2012, he helped found Russia of the Future, a political party in opposition to Putin’s dominant Russia United party. Still, it’s difficult to distill Navalny’s personality and politics down to a simple narrative. 

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    What is Navalny about?

    Navalny (2021) is an in-depth look at the life and politics of Russian politician Alexei Navalny. This biography details how Navalny rose to prominence and what plans he has for Russia’s future.

    Who should read Navalny?

    • Outsiders seeking to understand life in Russia 
    • Political thinkers keen to grasp the concept of power in a post-USSR world
    • All those invested in the future of world governance

    About the Author

    Jan Matti Dollbaum is a postdoctoral researcher specializing in Russian society. He studies at Bremen University. 

    Morvan Lallouet is a PhD researcher investigating Russian politics at University of Kent.

    Ben Noble is Lecturer in Russian Politics at University College London. His work focuses on the intersection of authoritarianism, legislative politics, and comparative politics in contemporary Russian life.

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