On April 20, 2011, I posted a piece about the discovery process in lawsuits, specifically referring to a guy we now read about every day, because he’s leading–with great courage–the Russian resistance to Putin.
Navalny’s focus is on corruption in Russia. And to uncover it, he’s done a hell of a job producing discovery requests to Russian corporations which do everything they can to avoid coughing them up. (Hm; sounds sort of familiar, doesn’t it? Sort of what the GOP congress has been doing lately. Where did they learn this trick of just not turning things over?)
And Rachel Maddow, on MSNBC, has recently offered some pretty stunning videos Navalny grabbed, via drones, of the multitude of over-the-top estates owned by the nominal Russian president, Medvedev. Whose government salary is somewhat less than $50,000 a year, making those estates fairly improbable on his income.
I learned about Navalny in a terrific New Yorker story written by Julia Ioffe. I think it’s worth re-posting it:
In a engaging and jaw-dropping New Yorker story about courageous (and courageously sarcastic) Russian lawyer, Alexey Navalny (his sarcasm alone won my heart), whose mission is to expose the insane level of corruption in Russian government and big business, author Julia Ioffe did three things for me, personally.
First, everybody yammers about “corrupt” this, “corruption” that. Me, I’m always wondering exactly how corruption works. Ms. Ioffe and Mr. Navalny laid it out for me.
Second, all you who yammer about corruption and corrupt government, especially when you’re flinging accusations of corruption at our government, really must read this piece. Because you don’t know what you’re talking about. Our politicians are seraphs compared to Russian politicos.
And third, Ms. Joffe touched upon the legal process we call discovery. That is, it’s a hilarious perversion of the discovery process, perverse in a way with which I am unhappily familiar.
Background: Mr. Navalny purchased stock in several Russian state-owned mega-corporations and, as a shareholder, is trying to get information from these corporations about certain peculiar multi-millions in “charitable donations,” money that has apparently whiffed off, who knows where? Mr. Navalny wants to know.
Transneft [one of the companies] declined the request for information, so Navalny went to the Interior Ministry’s Economic Security Division and asked them to open a criminal investigation. This is how the investigation proceeded: A detective asked Transneft to give testimony regarding the charges. They didn’t, so he closed the case. (The state prosecutor’s office overruled this decision, and reopened the case.) Then the detective went to Transneft, but was unable to question anyone. He closed the case. (The prosecutor’s office overruled this, too.) Then the detective stopped doing anything at all. When Navalny appealed to the court, the detective claimed to have lost the case materials…
Nearly three years later, Transneft has refused to provide Navalny with the documents he requested, challenging his claim to be a shareholder of the company. The corporation also stalled in court, waiting for the result of an appeal by Rosneft [another company] to Russia’s Constitutional Court, arguing that a law giving broad access to shareholders is unconstitutional. In February, the Constitutional Court, to everyone’s surprise, rejected Rosneft’s reasoning, and a Moscow arbitration court ruled that Navalny was indeed a shareholder and that Transneft had to provide the documents he requested. Transneft is appealing the decision.
You know who behaves similarly to Russian oligarchs?
My defendants, that’s who.
UPDATE 12/24/2014. After reading about Alexey Navalny in the New Yorker (to which I make reference above), I started worrying about him. I mean, how long would Putin permit this remarkably courageous guy to go after the Russian oligarchs who Putin supports — and who support Putin.
So I was not surprised but am still dismayed that Navalny is now threatened with a long prison term based on the usual trumped-up charges Putin’s Soviet KGB character produces when someone is pricking his skin.
ANOTHER UPDATE 3/28/2017. And he was just arrested again for participating (and leading) those massive protests in Russia: Source: Aleksei Navalny, Russian Opposition Leader, Receives 15-Day Sentence – The New York Times