ALEXEI NAVALNY’S WALDEINSAMKEIT – THAT’S GERMAN FOR SPIRITUAL FOREST WALKING SURROUNDED BY 100 GERMAN SECRET SERVICE AGENTS
By Liane Theuerkauf , Munich, and John Helmer, Moscow
Between his arrival in Berlin on August 22, his release from the Charité medical clinic on September 22, and January 16, the day before his return to Russia, Alexei Navalny performed the nineteenth century ritual of walking in forests, thinking. The German term for this is Waldeinsamkeit, literally “forest loneliness”.
The Romantic equivalent for the English was expressed by William Wordsworth’s wandering lonely as a cloud in his famous poem of 1807. Germans usually get their Romantic tonic from the woods before Mother Nature pushes up the narcissi.
Liane Theuerkauf has compiled a dossier from open sources, most of them Navalny himself and people he employed during his German sojourn, to reveal that during his wanderlust he wasn’t so much thinking as plotting. The forests he visited included the Black Forest of southwestern Germany and the Swiss woods around Basel, Switzerland. Because the German season was winter, Navalny may also have spent the New Year’s holiday in the Spanish Canary Islands in the Atlantic, off Morocco. The evidence for that is a single German press report, apparently leaked by German security guards.
Not even the clouds were Wordsworthian lonely for Navalny. On the ground in the Black Forest he was surrounded by more than one hundred police and secret service agents; in the air above, there were helicopter patrols and electronic signal monitoring aircraft. Roadblocks, checkpoints, and an encrypted communication tower, specially set up for him the day before his arrival, caused more dismay and discussion among the villagers (lead image, left) than they had experienced in a long time. But solitariness and solitude were what Navalny attempted to convey with his regular publication of photographs.
They were camouflage. OPERATION WALDEINSAMKEIT cost the German state more than €25 million in men and equipment. It encouraged Navalny himself to believe that on his return to Moscow, his rescue by the intelligence planners he had met and talked with on his forest wanderings would be certain – and swift.
He has now been transferred to serve his 2 year-8 month prison sentence at the special measures prison known as IK-2 Pokrov (lead image, right). The special measures of this unit of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, near Yaroslavl – about 100 kilometres by road, two and a half hours driving east of Moscow – include a regimen of 24-hour supervision; constant make-work activity from 6 in the morning to 10 at night; 15 minutes’ time for letter writing; one hour free time per day. The regimen has been designed for isolation of Islamic terrorists. Some of the 400 inmates are not allowed to be spoken to by the others. Visits from lawyers and family require advance application and authorisation, the processing of which usually takes four to eight weeks.
The reputation of IK-2 Prokrov is so fearsome among Russian convicts that those who can try bribing their way to other places.
Navalny has overestimated his power. Liane Theuerkauf’s dossier records how he was encouraged by German government officials and their allies to do this.(more…)