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Silence (The Sacrifice of Navalny)

Navalny fut un héros de la Russie Libre

  Silence. A heavy silence. A leaden silence. The silence of a prison.

 Yesterday, at the impromptu memorial organized in memory of Alexei Navalny, there was only silence. Dozens of people and not a sound. As if something had snapped. As if our destiny was broken. As if everything was over. This silence pushed me to think about what happened to us, what awaits us in the future, and the very meaning of the death that we come to commemorate.

 Why did Navalny die? The answers are obvious and we know them. Because he dared to challenge Putin. Because he scared the regime by giving the people hope and the promise of another Russia, a better Russia. But above all he died because he exposed the fact that the people in power in Russia are thieves who do not care about the country’s future and its people. He revealed to the world who our rulers truly are when they never wanted anyone to know. Navalny denounced the thieves in power and those thieves used their power to silence, imprison and kill him. The truth is that he was in the way and that he represented a risk for those in power.

 The Story of Navalny is a story that is too common in today's Russia: it is the story of someone who was punished for having an opinion and expressing it, it is the story of someone who was punished because he wanted the best for his country and his people, it is someone who was punished because he dared to hope. The Russian Government does not want to give back their freedom to the Russian people so that they can build their own future because in this future this Government does not exist. We sacrifice our heroes, innocent lives, and our own future every day to secure their well-being and not our own. The happiness of Putin and his clan requires the sacrifice of Russia and its people. And this is what Navalny spoke out against. And that's why he was murdered.

 Our Responsibility

 Silence. A guilty silence. A silence of regret.

 As we stood there, I felt like we understood that yes, it was Putin who killed Navalny, but we too are responsible. We can of course think of all those people who decided not to go out into the street when it was still possible because they did not want to risk their comfortable daily life. We can also think of all the people who did not want to take responsibility for the future of the country and only thought about their quiet little existence.

 But we are also responsible. We, who have been fighting for years now. Our fault ? It is weakness, it is the lack of initiative, it is our lack of decisiveness. For two years now we have only been doing the bare minimum. We are scared. We are afraid of words, we are afraid of what to do even though we know that we have to do it. We are fighting with the methods of 2018 against a totalitarian regime of 2024. The first year of the War, when I spoke about the need for a Revolution, I was taken for an extremist... Navalny's HQs were not created until December 2022, the working groups on reforms date from September 2023… The first serious discussions on what to do are even more recent. We're still three steps behind. We run behind events and swallow all the distractions that the Kremlin throws at us. He already thought 10 steps in front of us, whilst we are stuck behind him.

 We missed some incredible opportunities to strike. The start of the War in February 2022, the announcement of the mobilization, the Prigozhin coup... We could have done something decisive at each of these opportunities and each time we only watched. I am not trying here to point fingers or denounce anyone. I have made these kinds of mistakes myself. But we have to face the truth. We were not up to the task.

 The need for Revolution was obvious even before the start of the War, the time for soft methods is long over… And we had no right to hide behind the backs of the Ukrainians. The idea that the Ukrainians are going to win this War and liberate us is madness. The Ukrainians don't care about the future of Russia, they only want to liberate their country. Their Victory was never guaranteed either ... And believing that a defeat for Russia would lead to the fall of the Putin regime is also a mistake. The only thing that would bring about the fall of the regime is a Revolution led by us, citizens of a free Russia.

 I can't guarantee we would have succeeded. But if we had been more decisive, maybe today Navalny would be free, maybe the War would be over, maybe the Ukrainian soldiers would be saved from death. But we decided to hide behind their heroic sacrifice and did nothing.

 This must change.

 And to change we must understand what awaits us and what we are fighting against. With each missed opportunity, the regime has gotten stronger. We can no longer do what we had to do in February 2022 or during the mobilization. Repression in Russia is reaching new heights and we cannot recklessly put the lives of our fellow citizens at risk. But we must also understand that we are facing the greatest challenge of our time. No one has yet had to fight a regime as powerful as Putin's. Armed with a nuclear arsenal, efficient security services, artificial intelligence, billions of dollars from the sale of gas, a titanic propaganda system and an ideology that allows him anything, Putin's dictatorship is a colossal titan .

 And what's more, he doesn't sit around twiddling his thumbs. He studies History and he knows where his predecessors failed and how to counteract all the scenarios of previous Revolutions. This does not mean that our cause is lost…Far from it. But that means we can't waste our resources, waste our time on pointless actions and play with people's hopes when we're afraid to tell the truth and do what needs to be done.

 The task ahead of us is immense, we must think, innovate, surprise, adapt, surpass ourselves. As in the natural world, if we don't adapt, we die. It's that simple. We need to put forward our talented people, we need to think of the unthinkable, we need to change.

 Navalny's legacy

 Silence. A deafening silence. An angry silence. A silence of determination.

 Many things have been said and will be said about Navalny in the weeks that follow. Paying tribute to his sacrifice is essential. Understanding his work is fundamental. But above all, what we must do is honor his courage. And there is only one way to do it: by continuing his fight.

 Lately I have been experiencing doubts about what we are doing. I am not someone who gives up the fight but I am not insensitive to introspection. And for weeks already I thought about the futility of our fight, about our future, about the risks we were taking. But Navalny's death swept away my doubts. Yesterday, standing in front of the memorial, I was struck by something evident. We cannot give up the fight. We do not have the choice. We don't know if we're going to win, we don't know what's going to happen to us. But that doesn't matter. Because Alexei died for what was right without having guarantees either. He died for us, he died for Russia.

 The Sacrifice of Navalny puts a duty on us. Because if we give up, he would have died for nothing. The meaning of his sacrifice depends on us now. We certainly are orphans now, but we are also now his heirs. The cause he chose is beautiful. He was a true patriot who fought for the motherland. He did not hesitate to put his life in danger. He did not hesitate to tell the truth. He did not hesitate to believe until the end. He showed us the way. And now we must finish the unfinished work he left us.

 It doesn't matter what happens. We cannot hope for guarantees of success. The only thing we have is the cause. And fighting for the cause is the only thing that matters. 

 He died an honest man. Honest with himself, and honest with us. So we must continue in the same spirit.

 Navalny will not have died in vain. In his honor we must dry our tears, get up, and get back to work. We must change, we must work hard, we must remain hopeful, now more than ever. That's what he would have wanted.

 Silence. A silence of ending. A silence of beginning. A silence, which must give way to thunder.

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