ALEXEI NAVALNY, Russia’s charismatic opposition leader, has always had something of the Hollywood hero about him, and he likes to illustrate his spe
ALEXEI NAVALNY, Russia’s charismatic opposition leader, has always had something of the Hollywood hero about him, and he likes to illustrate his speeches with references to popular movies. Reflecting on the journey he has made from Siberia, where he was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent, to a Berlin hospital, where he awoke after a three-week coma, he is conscious of the cinematic quality of the plot so far: a people’s hero challenges an evil dictator who tries to kill him with a mysterious poison. But his loyal friends and his devoted wife bring him back to life. “It starts like a political thriller, then turns into a romantic comedy,” he tells The Economist during an interview in Berlin.
The intubation scars on his neck, his gaunt look, the tremor in his hands and the insomnia are a little too real for a Hollywood movie, though. And the biggest changes are less visible. “Paradoxically, I have become more humane, maybe even sentimental,” he says. Watching the recent satellite footage of military drones hitting targets in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, he surprised himself thinking: “Hang on a second, this black dot is a person who just probably lost his legs and is now staring into the sky…It is good for a politician to look into the face of death,” he says.
Mr Navalny (pictured above, for Der Spiegel), who almost died on August 20th on board a flight from…