The People Who Look Into The Table

I rarely write about Russian politics, if ever. But today I read Alexey Navalny’s speech he gave in court and I was at awe. So, as usual, he’s being convicted on some fabricated charges, but the speech he gave is for history books. He keeps talking about people who “look into the table”, using this metaphor to describe people who are either too scared, or too lazy or too indifferent to what’s going on in Russia right now. It’s too powerful and I wanted to translate it into English. So I spent an afternoon translating it and here it is. Read and weep.


“How many times during his life, a man, who doesn’t do anything criminal or illegal, can deliver his last word? Zero, zilch. Or, perhaps, if he’s unlucky, it happens once. For the last year and a half, 2 years if one considers appeal – this is my sixth, seventh, maybe even tenth last word.

This phrase – “Defendant Navalny, you have your last word” – I have heard many times. It seems that we all have our last word – me, somebody else, all of us are having our last days. They all want us to say our last word.

I said it before, but I see that the last days are not coming. And more importantly, what makes me convinced in that is if I could photograph all of you here, like this, the three of you or all of you, with the representatives of the so-called victims. These are the people with whom I interact recently.

These are the people who look into the table, you see. You all are constantly looking into the table. I’m talking to you and you constantly look into the table, all of you. You have nothing to say. The most popular phrase – surely, you know this – which is addressed to me. Detective, prosecutors, FSIN employees, anybody, civil judges, criminal judges, say this phrase more often than anything: “Alexey Anatolyevich, you understand.”

Yes, I understand. There’s one thing I don’t understand though – why do you always look into the table? I’m under no illusions. I understand perfectly, that none of you will now spring from your seat, turn over this table and say: “I can’t take this anymore! I’m leaving now!” And the representatives of “Yves Roche” won’t stand up and say: “Navalny has convinced us with his eloquence!”

A man is not made this way. A man’s conscience compensates his sense of guilt. Otherwise people would throw themselves on the beach like dolphins. It’s impossible to come home and be overwhelmed. It’s impossible to come home and tell you children, you spouse: “You know, today I participated in jailing an innocent man. Now I am suffering and will always be suffering.”

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