Great Britain

Alexander Navalny’s political gifts could spell the beginning of the end for Vladimir Putin

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golden loo brush is an unlikely symbol of revolution – successor to the famous hammer and sickle of Marxist-Leninist times. And yet the opulent bathroom accessory, or at least a cheap replica, has been brandished on the streets of Russia in the biggest protests in years, calling for the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and railing against President Putin’s abuse of power.

Elections to the Russian parliament, the Duma, are due later this year and, for what they’re worth, may mark a further weakening of Mr Putin’s hold on the respect of the Russian people.  

The loo brush is a reference to the revelation that Vladimir Putin’s cronies had built and gifted the president a vast £1bn palace. Designed in Italianate style, it features, among many other extravagances, a theatre, casino, pole dancing club, church, ice rink, vineyards plus winery, arboretum, a hookah lounge and, naturally, gold fittings in the (relatively) smallest room. No doubt it’s also close to local schools and shops, as the estate agents like to say.

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