Neo-Soviet Winter, Descending
Those of us in Europe and America who think that spring is approaching should look towards Russia, where despite the calendar a dark cold winter is descending across the land.
First, they will learn how Russian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the protesters who raised banners declaring “Putler is Kaput!” in Vladivostock a few weeks ago. This frighteningly neo-Soviet act makes total fools out of all those who claimed that Russia could never go back to the bad old Soviet days. What else aren’t Russians allowed to say about their maniacal dictator Vladimir Putin? Who’s next, one must ask? The poets?
Then, they will read how Russian prosecutors are charging bravely after the country’s Internet poets. The Moscow Times reports that “a 21-year-old poet has been convicted in Veliky Novgorod for publishing Islamic poems on her LiveJournal blog that the Federal Security Service deemed extremist. Savelyeva refused to recite the poems that were found extremist, citing fears that her telephone was bugged by law enforcement officers.” The MT states:
Poems posted on Savelyeva’s blog, written under the nickname “nibaal,” included one about shakhids, the term meaning “martyrs” that is often mistakenly used to describe Islamic suicide bombers. The poem, addressed to a shakhid, calls on them to “hold the detonator tight” and says they will die “heroes” of their motherland and go to paradise.
Would similar poems written to glorify the efforts of Russian soldiers fighting against the “bandits” in Chechnya also draw criminal prosecutions? We doubt it. Can Russia consider itself a”stable” and “civilized” nation worthy of sitting at the G-8 table when it is afraid of poet-bloggers? It certainly cannot.
Russia’s blogger-in-chief Anton Nosik ” said Savelyeva’s offense, if there had been any, was ‘insignificant’ to the public in general compared to crimes such as rape, terrorist attacks and murders. ‘All [law enforcement officers] who instead of looking for terrorists read poems on the Internet should be burned.'”
How is it possible, after so many years of Soviet darkness, that Russians still do not understand the fatal consequences of allowing their government to act out of this kind of unchecked paranoia? Even if, today, you believe that all these targets of government prosecution are deserving, how do you know that tomorrow’s targets will also fit that bill? How, indeed, do you know that the target will not be you, or your family members?
Perhaps the best indicator of a nation’s level of civilization is the way it treats the more extreme elements of its society. A strong, confident, civilized nation is not afraid, for instance, of the likes of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. At most, it will laugh at them. But in Russia, the JWs are not laughing matter; rather, they are the stuff of frenzied nationalist paranoia and blatant persecution, such that now they are fighting for their very survival. Do Russians really think that this flaky little religious cult is capable of bringing them down? If so, don’t they have much bigger problems they need to worry about, like why their leaders have made them so pathetically weak and helpless?
Until Russia manages to learn this lesson, it will be lucky to remain a barbaric nation on a pathway to self-destruction. More likely, the nation wil once again collapse into ruin.