What does Aleksey Navalny really think about Ukraine, Crimea and Donbas?

The entire world is following the case of leading Russian oppositionist Aleksey Navalny, who was immediately detained upon his return to Russia after recovering in Germany from an assassination attempt by Russia’s state security services. Are Russian liberals indeed so liberal that they will ease tensions between Ukraine and Russia? Vladyslav Faraponov, analyst and journalist at Internews Ukraine and UkraineWorld, takes a closer look at what Navalny has said about Ukraine.

Navalny discussed his opinions on Crimea in a 2014 interview with Aleksei Venediktov, editor-in-chief of the relatively independent radio station Ekho Moskvy. Venediktov asked him, “If you were to become president, would you try to return the Crimea to Ukraine?” Navalny replied: “Is the Crimea a sandwich or something you can take and give it back? I don’t think so”. He was subsequently asked about this statement several times later on.

Navalny did not give a clear indication of his views on the rightful control of Crimea at the time. “Crimea belongs to the residents of Crimea. But now Crimea, of course, de facto belongs to Russia”, he recalled in 2014.

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