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An Attack Discolored His Face And Burned His Eyes. It Didn't Take Away His Sense Of Humor.

Even if he's allowed to run in Russia's 2018 presidential election, Aleksei Navalny stands almost zero chance — but that hasn't stopped him from campaigning.

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This is Russian anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny. Last week, someone threw a green liquid in his face, causing what he said a doctor diagnosed as a "chemical burn on the right eye."

Evgeny Feldman for "This is Navalny" / Via navalny.feldman.photo

It's not the first time Navalny has been on the receiving end of an attack like this. The bright green antiseptic known as zelenka in Russian pharmacies has been used against politicians, activists and journalists who challenge the Kremlin. It's also been thrown at opposition figures and protesters in Ukraine. The green stuff irritates the eyes and can stain the skin for a few days.

The doctor said the activist lost most of his sight in the affected eye, indicating the attack used "a mix of disinfectant and another, caustic liquid," Navalny wrote on his website.

Evgeny Feldman for "This is Navalny" / Via navalny.feldman.photo

"I am being actively treated and there is hope that I will be healed," he wrote. "I don't doubt for a second, and my confidence is based on facts, that the attack was organized by the president's administration." Moscow police have opened a criminal investigation into the incident, according to the Russian newspaper Vedomosti.

Navalny has announced his intention to stand in Russia's 2018 presidential election, though his conviction in an embezzlement case — widely considered to be political retaliation orchestrated by the Kremlin — will likely bar him from running.

Evgeny Feldman for "This is Navalny" / Via navalny.feldman.photo

Even if he's allowed on the ballot, 40-year-old Navalny would be a long-shot candidate in a political system dominated by President Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party. Navalny's supporters are largely young, educated middle-class Russians who are active on the internet and live in cities like Moscow, where the candidate got 27% of the vote in the 2013 mayoral election.

Most people in Russia get their news from pro-Kremlin state-controlled television. Just 47% of Russians know who Navalny is, and of those, 63% say they definitely would not vote for him, according to a February poll by the independent Levada Center.

Navalny has documented the corruption of the political elite and made a mark with his rhetorical flair, coining the phrase "party of crooks and thieves" to describe Putin's United Russia. He's also been accused of using ethnic slurs with colleagues, appeared at a Russian nationalist march, and made videos derogatory of migrant workers from Central Asia and the Caucasus.

The likelihood of being excluded from the election hasn't stopped Navalny from campaigning across Russia — or making jokes about his appearance after the attack.

"Old man Putin and his administration's methods of political warfare are such that closer to Election Day I may well look something like this," he wrote on his website.

Aleksei Navalny / Via navalny.com

"In the end, I always said that Terminator 2 was my favorite movie, so I'm to blame for everything," he said.

Navalny wore a pirate-style eye patch to address supporters in a YouTube broadcast Thursday.

Больше 60 тысяч в онлайне. Вот, что значит пиратская повязка!

"More than 60,000 [viewers] online. Here's what an eye patch means!"

And then the memes began.

"I couldn't resist."

Yup.

Пиратский эфир @navalny завершён! Спасибо вам за вопросы и комментарии. Запись: https://t.co/aUKm1TH1UZ. И не забыв… https://t.co/hXpoHmfsEO

"Wow. New Simpsons and @navalny."

Вау. Новые Симпсоны и @navalny

Navalny called for supporters to protest around the country on June 12, a national holiday called Russia Day.

Потому что @navalny наш капитан! Второй комикс не заставил себя ждать. #Навальный2018

"Are you ready, kids?" "Aye aye, captain!" "Then on June 12 we're all going out in the streets!"

In March, Navalny was arrested at Russia's largest street protests since 2012, which took place in 99 cities.

Susie Armitage is the Global Managing Editor and is based in New York.

Contact Susie Armitage at susie.armitage@buzzfeed.com.

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