Kozlovsky’s Army Under Siege
“I was furious when I heard Putin speaking fairy tales in Davos about how our economy is under control. It is my duty to stand up for my rights. I want to live in a good place. I want my children to grow up in a free country, not a gulag.”
— Yevgeny Antipov, a 21-year-old student in Vladivostok last weekend, insisting that he was not afraid to be marching against the government for the first time.
Does U.S. President Barack Obama ever intend to speak out on the oppression of basic democratic and liberal values in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, values he supposedly holds dear? Or are Obama’s pretty words just that, and nothing more?
Oleg Kozlovsky and his opposition organization Oborona (“Defense”) continue to face outrageous harassment from the barbaric band of thugs who run the Moscow Kremlin. Obama continues his repugnant, cowardly silence. We fear that those who told us to trust that Obama would act once he took power were seriously misled.
On January 31st, Oborona activists participated in yet another of Garry Kasparov’s “Days of Dissent” marches, and once again the Kremlin took both preemptive and punitive action to stifle their free speech rights.
Before the event, Putin’s police circulated a letter to a number of major universities asking them to expel students who participated in the last Dissenter March, which occurred in mid-December.
Then during the event, a gang of thugs (Russian language link, with video) attacked the marchers (English link at Oleg’s blog, also with video), inflicting serious injuries on several of them. Police, who were surrounding the marchers, totally ignored the thugs and focused their attention exclusively on seeking to control the marchers themselves. Alexei Kazakov, the Moscow branch coordinator for Oborona, had his nose broken by the thugs and then was placed under arrest for unauthorized protesting by the police. Dozens of other activists went with him into Putin’s dungeons.
The Moscow Times reports that a group of protesters from Roman Dobrokhotov’s anti-Kremlin youth group My, or “We” in English, rallied outside the White House with blank signs and their mouths taped shut. Police detained all the participants.
As Putin’s economy fails spectacularly, we can only expect higher levels of paranoia from the Kremlin as these challengers become bolder. How long will it be before someone like Mr. Kazakov gets the Markelov treatment?
Not long at all, unless Western leaders like Barack Obama have the courage to step forward and protect them.