Ilya Shablinsky: A Legend From This Day On

16 February 2024

by Ilya Shablinsky

Source: Facebook

We’re all well aware that the order of a certain murderer and sadist has been carried out, one who received dictatorial power by some twist of fate. The one who hated and feared Aleksei. The leader of the Russian opposition remained a serious and dangerous opponent of the dictatorship, even while in prison.

Now, as they did many years ago, people are discussing on social media whether or not Navalny should have returned from Germany to the hands of his killers after his treatment. I don’t know. Maybe right now I wish that he had stayed outside Russia and were still alive.

But this is the path he chose, the fate he chose. He didn’t like being a politician abroad. But what can you do.

In recent years, the fate that befell Navalny has been compared to that of Nelson Mandela, a leader who lived to see his freedom and his time. Which his country waited a long time to see.

It has to be acknowledged that while the conditions of Mandela’s imprisonment were difficult, they were such that he was able to survive and return to freedom.

The conditions that Aleksei was in didn’t allow for this. Predictably, the gang of sadists who carried out the order of Sadist #1 surpassed their counterparts abroad in the malice, baseness, and sadistic nature of their ingenuity. But then again, didn’t we already know this about the Russian reality? About this side of it? What happened today reveals nothing new about the Russian regime or the dictator bathed in blood — this time, not metaphorically. It’s as plain as day.

There’s something more important to talk about.

We, the people who despise the servitude into which our country is now plunged, have lost a leader. There’s no way this loss can be replaced. Aleksei himself could probably have thought of something ironic and comforting to say about that. But I can’t.

He remained true to himself in inhumane conditions. He gave advice and suggestions about current events. About the war, the elections, everything. He promised to be Santa Claus beyond the Polar Circle. He was joking and smiling the day before his death. He kept that smile and that composure throughout the three years of hell and the three-hundred days in hell.

Everyone saw it.

It’s the times we’re living in, our epoch: not only is it very difficult to hide the baseness of these times, but it’s also hard to hide the real, genuine courage that’s growing legendary — it’s out in the open for each and every person to see. Press a button, unlock your device’s screen — and you see it.

Aleksei Navalny knew his epoch. He’s a child of it.

His texts and videos remain, which contain his inventiveness, his wit, and his sharpness. They can still help us. He created an entire layer of political life. He revitalized, for a few years, the country’s torpid civic life.

And that’s not going anywhere. Navalny has long been a part of history, long ago earned a place in history books. But we didn’t know — and neither did he — what the price would be.

Now we do.

He thought about this price, of course. He was aware of it all. But he also read that novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, and he probably remembered the precept of one of its main characters: cowardice is undoubtedly one of the most terrible vices.

These strong words can be understood in different ways. Aleksei Navalny made a choice that presupposed each of his actions being judged at the highest cost. That was in his nature. To some extent this era will be judged in the same way, as will we. Take a close look at his face.

Anyone who overcomes fear gets the chance to become a legend. Celebrations, or the renaming of streets, squares, and airports — all of that comes later. But Aleksei Navalny is already becoming a legend. From this day on.

Translated by Nina dePalma