How about this: getting a suspended sentence converted to a real one, because you got flown abroad, for a life-threatening case?
Is the court saying you should die, sticking to the sentence terms? But frown at rallying for treatment, to stay alive, to serve your sentence?
That is some grim categorical imperative, that would have made Immanuel Kant, the philosophical author of that rigorous concept, bristle with envy!
Yet, that appears the verdict of a Moscow court on Alexei Navalny, Russian dissident and arch-critic of Russian strongman, President Vladimir Putin. Some Russian logic!
While serving a suspended sentence in 2020, Navalny, on board a domestic flight to Moscow, got critically ill. He was alleged to have been poisoned with a nerve agent, that put his life in peril. The poison was first alleged to have been slipped into his tea. Later, Navalny himself alleged it was slipped into his underwear.
What was indisputable was that life was ebbing out of a screaming Navalny, as his airplane made emergency landing. After initial stabilization, he was flown to a German hospital, which confirmed that indeed, Navalny was a near-victim of a military grade, lethal nerve agent. However, the German medics nursed him back to health, in company of his distraught wife.
But January 17, Navalny headed back to Russia, and landed right into trouble! For starters, Russian state agents diverted his airplane to another airport (from the one hundreds of his doting supporters were waiting and cheering), though still in Moscow. From there, he was wheeled straight into gaol, sparking outrage, local and global.
When the dust cleared a little, Navalny was back in the dock: accused of breaching the non-travel terms of his two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence. Pronto, the court threw him into the slammer for real!
Again, that voice-of-Jacob-hands-of-Esau Moscow court verdict set the global sympathizers of Navalny seething; and his local Russian supporters storming the streets, country-wide, in forceful but peaceful protests. The court could have been the gaoler. But the long arms, of the slight, lean and mean Putin, was clear in all the political-judicial manoeuvres.
From Navalny, however, hardly a retreat, hardly a surrender. Even while being trundled into gaol, Navalny was all jab and hook at his formidable opponent, in this Russian rope-a-dope.
“The reason why it all happened is one man’s hatred and fear ….” Navalny roared. “I mortally offended him by surviving an attempt at my life … and then I committed an even more serious offence: I didn’t go into hiding.”
And how about this for the closing flourish of Round One? “Murder is the only way he (referring to Putin) knows how to fight … We all remember Alexander the Liberator and Yaroslav the Wise. Well, now we’ll have Vladmir the Poisoner of Underpants! That’s how,” Navalny landed his stiff clincher, “he will go down in history”!
Even the Russian logic, has its own roiling street echoes!
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