Russian Language Blog

Three Trendy Opposition Figures in Russia Posted by on Apr 4, 2016 in Russian life

If you follow Russian news, you may come across names of certain opposition figures and their conflicts with the powers that be. Yet who are these people? Are they all part of the same group or organization? Do they have the same goals? What precisely do they oppose? Love them or hate them, you may want to know a little bit of their background story so you can decide for yourself.

I would like to concentrate on people who have been active in the recent year, so Soviet dissidents are left out for the time being. Of course, no list can be comprehensive, so feel free to explore this subject further in these articles by The Guardian, Infoplease, and Wikipedia.

Alexey Navalny (Алексе́й Нава́льный)


Alexey Navalny is a lawyer (адвока́т) and blogger (бло́гер), who first gained renown for exposing alleged corruption (корру́пция) on behalf of government officials (госуда́рственные слу́жащие also known as госcлу́жащие). Navalny has claimed that many Russian politicians (поли́тики) and entrepreneurs (предпринима́тели) have unfairly gained wealth thanks to their proximity to people in power. He has also spoken out against unfair elections (нече́стные вы́боры) and persecution of dissidents (пресле́дование оппози́ции). At the same time, he has an ambiguous stance to Russian nationalist (ру́сский национали́зм), asserting the rights of ethnic Russians, which has drawn criticism from other opposition figures. Navalny was accused and found guilty of embezzlement and fraud (растра́та и моше́нничество) in a trial critics say was politically motivated.

Kseniya Sobchak (Ксе́ния Собча́к)

Kseniya Sobchak is the daughter of the first democratically elected mayor (мэр) of St. Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. She first became famous as a socialite (“све́тская льви́ца“) and a TV host of entertainment shows. She took part in protests against unfair elections in 2011, and her contracts with government channels were not renewed (ей не продли́ли контра́кт), according to her, due to her political activism. Sobchak currently hosts shows on the private TV Rain channel (телекана́л “Дождь”) and writes for non-governmental media (негосуда́рственные СМИ).

Pussy Riot


Pussy Riot is a direct-action punk group from Moscow. It does not have a consistent lineup as, according to its members, anyone can be a member. They are known for their public political performances criticizing the government. Two of the group members served prison time (тюре́мные сро́ки) for an anti-Putin “punk prayer” (панк-моле́бен) performance in a church,  which many thought was a disproportionate punishment. Maria Alyokhina (Masha) and Nadezhda Tolokonnokova (Nadya) were released in 2014 and have been active with their protest art and advocacy on behalf of Russian prisoners.

Have you come across any of these names in the media? How were they covered?


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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.


  1. Sue:

    Yes, I like to listen to Kasenia in her talk show. She seems very intelligent and her topics are worthwhile to listen to, as opposed to other talk shows that show the worst kind of gossip.

    I’ve also heard of the controversial band. I would say all of these people are extremely brave.