Alexei Navalny, Poisoned?

(NY Times) Aleksei Navalny, Putin Foe, Is Hospitalized After ‘Allergic Reaction’ in Russian Jail.  Quoting,

One of Mr. Navalny’s allies, Leonid Volkov, said on Twitter on Sunday that he had spent 28 days in the same cell in June and had a similar experience to the apparent allergic reaction.

“Immediately upon release, I got all swollen and covered with red spots,” Mr. Volkov wrote. “We thought this was an allergy.”

Though diagnosis requires examination with specialist expertise, it could be the initiation of chloracne, a disfiguring skin disease resembling acne. It is considered a marker of dioxin exposure. Quoting (NCBI) Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2014, Appendix B Short-Term Adverse Health Responses,

Chloracne is a skin disease that is characteristic of exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetra-chlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and other diaromatic organochlorine chemicals. It shares some pathologic processes (such as the occlusion of the orifice of the sebaceous follicle) with more common forms of acne (such as acne vulgaris)…

Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine politician, was poisoned with dioxin, resulting in disfigurement. The motivation behind such nonlethal poisoning is to avoid creation of a martyr, and to deprive the victim of political charisma by disfigurement.  Navalny is at similar risk.

The loss of Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down within sight of the Kremlin Walls, was almost regretted by comparison, particularly by Vladimir Putin himself. The sentiment is probably not shared by the significant criminal element within the Kremlin. But on Alexei Navalny, the sentiment is probably unanimous: any chance of political rise must be stopped, without the danger of martyrdom.

For the criminal element, the reason is simple: Navalny is after them. It’s either Navalny or them. Anyone who understands the power of that faction wouldn’t put their money on Navalny. If there were a chance to make it look like an accident, they would take that chance. Apparently, Navalny lives carefully.

Putin’s bargain with the Devil, by which it can be argued that he saved Russia from chaos, involved co-opting all the elements of Russian society, and he has never found a way to pay it off. But there is also a political reason of some legitimacy why Navalny must not be allowed to rise.

It involves the Caucaus. Navalny opposes the allocation of public resources to placate the Caucasus. The slogan of the campaign is “Stop feeding the Caucasus”. For some reason, RT has an article on it that doesn’t sound like half truths: Nationalists demand Moscow ‘stop feeding the Caucasus’. (I do not vouch for total absence of distortion.) Quoting Putin from the article,

“Those who say so deserve to have a piece of themselves cut off,” Putin said during an interview with media outlets from the Chechen Republic. “They do not understand what they are talking about. As soon as any country starts to reject some problematic territories, this means the beginning of the end for the whole country,” he stressed.

Chechnya is an autonomous oblast of the Russian Federation, within the Caucasus, separated from the borders of Russia by somewhat less dangerous regions, though Ingushetia, closer to Moscow, comes close. Two Chechen wars were fought, the second a decisive “win” for Russsia. But the loyalties of Muslim subjects are undermined by radical sympathies that extend through porous borders.

At great cost, Putin crushed Chechnya, and then sealed up the volatile remnants of discontent in a web of personal fealties involving Ramzan Kadyrov and his cohorts. This is not a modern political arrangement. It is purchased loyalty, the price made affordable by the brutality of the Chechen wars. As long as Kadyrov is treated right, it may endure. But if Russia “stops feeding the Caucasus”, conflict beckons, apartment bombings, and a third Chechen war.  Chechnya has a very large, irritable, militia.

No state other than the Russian Federation contains within it another hostile state, temporarily pacified by a welfare program. To stop feeding the Caucasus, it has to be amputated by a guarded border. Perhaps this is the object of Russian nationalists. But that would bring the Middle East to within 400 miles of Moscow.

That’s too close for comfort.