Alexei Navalny Compares Putin's Enablers to Mayor Quimby on 'The Simpsons'

Alexei Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader and prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday compared the Russian leader's "enablers" to the opportunistic mayor from Fox's long-running animated series The Simpsons.

"There's a character in The Simpsons, the corrupt Mayor Quimby. His catchphrase is: 'Did I hear a briefcase opening?' I remember him every time I think of how Putin's oligarchs and their enablers (lobbyists, lawyers and bankers) successfully block sanctions even in times of war," Navalny wrote in a Twitter thread.

Navalny, who started the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) in 2011, was jailed for two and a half years for parole violations in February 2021. In March of this year, he was convicted of fraud charges and sentenced to nine years in a maximum security jail. Navalny tweeted in May that he faces new charges that could keep him imprisoned for 15 more years.

The character from The Simpsons that Navalny referenced, Mayor Quimby, has been a recurring figure since the cartoon's second season and is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, who also portrays Homer Simpson and several other parts on the show. Quimby speaks with a thick Boston accent and shares several characteristics with the Kennedy family.

Quimby has also been implicated in various forms of financial crimes on the show, such as embezzling tax money and taking bribes from the mob. This is where Navalny sees parallels with those he says provide aid to Putin.

Alexei Navalny addresses a crowd
In this photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen addressing demonstrators during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, in Moscow on July 20, 2019. Navalny, who is currently jailed in Russia, said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin reminds him of the corrupt mayor from TV's "The Simpsons." Photo by MAXIM ZMEYEV/AFP via Getty Images

Navalny started his thread by writing that since the beginning of the war in Ukraine in late February, "Western leaders firmly stated that Putin's oligarchs and bribe-takers would face imminent sanctions and wouldn't get away this time. But they did."

The activist continued, "On the one hand, at the level of the European Parliament, the U.S. Congress and Senate, and national parliaments, there is full support for massive sanctions against bribe-takers and warmongers.

"On the other hand, as soon as it comes to concrete work, everything crumbles to dust in the depths of the executive branch. Nothing happens. The leaders make big speeches, but the decisions get stuck somewhere," he wrote.

Navalny's thread, which stretched across 28 separate tweets, listed various businesspeople like Alexei Miller—the head of the Russia state-owned energy company Gazprom—and oligarch Roman Abramovich as high-profile examples of prominent Putin supporters who have not been sanctioned.

"No one is demanding to get these Putin lovers summarily executed, to set their yachts and villas on fire and destroy them. No, we only propose a travel ban and freezing of assets. If they hate the West so much, they shouldn't travel there!" he said.

Navalny called on voters and legislators in Western countries to "put pressure on the executive branch and force them to stop engaging in demagoguery and urgently get down to massive personal sanctions against Putin's thieves."

Tuesday is not the only time Navalny has made a pop culture reference while discussing serious matters. After his conviction in March, he quoted from the HBO crime drama The Wire.

"9 years. Well, as the characters of my favorite TV series The Wire used to say: 'You only do two days. That's the day you go in and the day you come out' I even had a T-shirt with this slogan, but the prison authorities confiscated it, considering the print extremist," his tweet from March 22 read.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian foreign ministry and Navalny via the Anti-Corruption Foundation for comment.