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The Assange of Russia

Aleksei Navalny’s star is rising, if this New York Times profile is anything to go by.  Navalny’s anti-corruption website, exposing the corrupt practices of Russia’s fattest contractors, drew the attention of Vladimir Putin initially.  The Prime Minister called for an investigation into activities at Transneft following Navalny’s whistleblowing, and now the Russian public are starting to pay more attention to his practices as middle class anger increases – specifically, says Navalny, from those who own shares in companies that don’t pay dividends – over company mismanagement. 
Mr. Navalny, whose fame and unabashed political ambitions are surely helped by his blue-eyed good looks and acidic sense of humor, has clearly touched a nerve in Russian society. His blog appeals to Russians who wonder: if the country’s vast oil wealth is not trickling down to the public, where is it going?

“I do this because I hate these people,” Mr. Navalny said gleefully of his Web postings, which take aim at those he describes as the self-dealing managers in the oil and natural gas business.

Within Russia, Mr. Navalny’s celebrity “is growing almost as quickly as that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange,” Nikolai Petrov, a fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, a political affairs research group, wrote in December. Mr. Petrov wrote that Mr. Navalny “represents a new generation of political activists, one who sees the system’s vulnerabilities and targets his blows accordingly.”