Estonian parliamentarians to meet with Russian opposition figure

Members if Estonia’s parliament will video conference with Russian opposition figure Leonid Volkov today. Volkov is Russian opposition leader Alexei

Sergey Ponomarev New York Times

Photo: Sergey Ponomarev/New York Times

Members if Estonia’s parliament will video conference with Russian opposition figure Leonid Volkov today.

Volkov is Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s chief of staff. Until recently, he ran the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s (FBK) regional office network. Today’s talks are meant to raise global awareness for the plight of the Russian opposition.

President Vladimir Putin has escalated his cracked down on opposition to consolidate power ahead of September’s legislative elections. The FBK’s ability to organize anti-government rallies domestically is now effectively gone. An extremist label, combined with mass arrests, has driven them online and abroad.

Expect Volkov to push Estonia, and the larger international community, to target Putin and his associates’ wealth with direct sanctions. Eight top targets, including Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire, were listed by Navalny prior to his arrest. They could see their assets frozen, travel visas denied, or trade blocked. Any targeted sanctions from Estonia would be too small to have much impact without EU support. However, it is unlikely the EU will follow suit due to strong economic ties with Russia, particularly in the energy sector. Given the cowed opposition and continued support of the oligarchs, Putin’s United Russia party will remain in power in the medium-term.

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