In the 1990s, the concept of democracy was thoroughly discredited in Russia. It is therefore surprising to find positive assessments of democracy in recent Russian political discourse in an unexpected place: among anti-regime professed nationalists. The most well-known exponent of this is Alexei Navalny, but he represents a broader current. The article surveys the larger landscape within which “the Navalny phenomenon” unfolds, and assesses its inner coherence and possible inconsistencies. The negative reactions of most national democrats to the annexation of Crimea in March show that Putin has not been able to win them over by playing the nationalist card.