Craven Russia Soils Democracy Once Again
In light of what has occurred with former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov’s People’s Freedom Party, it is hard for us to see how any thinking person can now view the people of Russia with anything but naked contempt.
Shamelessly, the Putin Kremlin has refused to allow PFP to stand for elections, denying them the basic right of registration. As Kasyanov put it: “Nothing that has been said or promised by Medvedev during these past three years has materialized. It has only gotten worse: that is more pressure on political opponents, even more falsification in regional elections.”
Meanwhile, despite telling the Financial Times that he thought political competition was essential to Russia’s future and that it was “very bad” that there were no liberal parties represented in the Duma, Medvedev himself said the he would not run against Vladimir Putin if Putin chose to seek the presidency for at third time.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal our favorite blogger, Vladimir Kara-Murza, told the world who Medvedev really is: “Medvedev’s recent statements about freedom and political competition have led many Western observers to hope for a new wave of democratic reforms in Russia. The Justice Ministry’s denial of the Popular Freedom Party’s registration papers last week shows that these statements are a fraud.”
A group of leading Western Russia scholars was blunt: They called the Kremlin’s decision “clearly political” and held that it violated international law to which Russia was obligated. And they challenged the US to respond: “The Obama administration is on record that democracy and human rights are important to U.S.-Russia relations. If so, the administration, and the U.S. Congress, should respond vigorously with measures designed to support democratic rights and freedoms. “
The PFP is also headed by former First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and seasoned parliamentarian Vladimir Ryzhkov. Along with Nemtsov, these are three of the most significant political figures in Russia today, and they have not even been allowed to form their own party and compete in elections. And yet the craven, cowardly, spineless citizens stand mute, just as they did in time of Stalin.
Not every single one of them, of course. Some Russians still have red blood in their veins, and they stormed out into the streets to show their outrage at this latest barbaric provocation. But, at best, the vast majority of Russians said and did nothing, at worst they showed active support for the Putin dictatorship.
What made this sorry spectacle even worse is that while Putin was refusing to allow a perfectly legal political party to challenge his authority in the next election, he was forcing the government to accept his own absolutely illegal party, the All-Russian People’s Front. Putin is violating at least two major laws in creating this organization, first in using public funds to support it and second in failing to register it with the Justice Ministry.
How dare the people of Russia behave in this outrageous manner? How dare they subject their children to the same barbaric political system, permeated by the KGB and totally devoid of political competition, that prevailed in Soviet times? Don’t they remember the wanton brutality of the the Soviet regime? Don’t they recall how the Soviet system collapsed because of its brutality and corruption?
If Russians continue on their current path, they will richly deserve the horrific misery that waits in store for them.