LUNCH WITH THE FT: Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin’s flawed but rudely defiant nemesis
His childhood holidays in Chernobyl were ended by the explosion, but his relatives lived there to dig up potatoes to show there was no danger while radioactive dust fell
As we leave Alexei Navalny’s office for our lunch, I realise we are to be joined by an uninvited guest. A young man in a baggy white T-shirt yells “Alexei, where do you buy cocaine?”, follows us across the street and begins filming us on his phone.
For Russian President Vladimir Putin’s biggest opponent, these intimidation tactics come with the turf. The man is “one of the worst” of several people Navalny says have harassed him and his family throughout the day for the past six months. “Usually they come in pairs. One tries to drive you nuts and the other films it. If you scream or push them, you’ll make their day and they’ll get it on film,” he says. “It teaches you zen, but it’s still infuriating when they come up close.”