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“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Do you, like many of us, hope that someday, things in Russia will be better? Better enough that not only will we be able to travel freely to this vast and amazing country, but that life will get better for the long-suffering Russian people, and for the world? Looking for some reason for optimism in a dark time? Then you ought to watch this amazing, scary, beautiful, very well crafted, and ultimately hopeful documentary film:

Navalny - trailer

CNN first aired this in April. (I managed to DVR it then, so have watched in a couple times - it brought me to tears.)

From CNN's press release:

The film explores the attempted assassination of enigmatic Russian anti-corruption campaigner and former presidential candidate, Alexey Navalny.

In August of 2020, shocking social media video emerged of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, writhing in pain inside a commercial airplane as alarmed crew and fellow passengers tried to render aid. Roher takes viewers inside what happened behind the alarming global headlines that followed: heated arguments between Navalny’s wife and the initial local Russian hospital team over his care; Navalny’s eventual emergency medical evacuation to Germany; and, the remarkable German assertion that Navalny had been poisoned by a Russian government-linked nerve agent, Novichok.

Alexey Navalny, had long ago made powerful enemies in Russia, including Vladimir Putin himself. In a riveting account that unwinds like a real-life thriller, Roher methodically documents the careful research and analysis that unmasked the would-be killers, and why they sought to kill the man Putin apparently considers a serious threat to his power. Roher interweaves interviews with Navalny, Navalny’s family, and contemporaneous eyewitnesses to key events, with other records. The film follows the investigation into the assassination plot, and includes reporting from the investigative news organizations, Bellingcat and CNN.

More details on the production here.

I found the documentary compelling. While Navalny is by no means perfect (what politician is?), he comes across as clever, brave, at times annoying and often charming, and an extremely hopeful figure. The film documents incredible-but-true recent history, puts Navalny's current plight in context, and shows his very human side. I found it very moving, believable, and ultimately a source of hope for Russia and the world. I felt great after viewing it (though it did temper my enthusiasm for visiting Russia anytime soon).

It's currently available on streaming services CNNgo, HBO Max, DIRECT TV, Sling TV. You can find parts of it on the CNN Films page linked above, and on YouTube. I suspect that CNN may re-broadcast it for free occasionally (they do that), so if you have a TV/DVR with a good search function, you might be able to set-it-and-forget-it and then one day you'll find you have it recorded to watch whenever you want.

Alexy Navalny is a very, very brave man, and this is a great documentary. Absolutely worth a look if/when you can find it.