MONDAY APRIL 13 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Vladimir Putler is the New Stalin
(2) EDITORIAL: Russia and its Rogues
(3) Annals of the Neo-Soviet Police State, Part I
(4) Annals of the Neo-Soviet Police State, Part II
(5) Kovalyov’s Letter to Putin
NOTE: We congratulate our friend Paul Goble, one of whose posts we feature in today’s special issue, on having his blog syndicated by the Moscow Times. Watch Paul strut his stuff in a YouTube interview with Khodorkovsy attorney Robert Amsterdam here.
Vladimir Putler is the New Stalin
Our issue today consists of a relentless barrage of evidence showing how Vladimir Putin has turned into a modern-day Stalin. Our secondary editorial shows how Russia is siding with and protecting the world’s worst tyrants, and our news items document how the Putin regime is relentlessly cracking down on the last vestiges of civil society. Mind you, these two items both come from Russians. Finally, we offer human rights champion Sergei Kovalyov’s open letter to Vladimir Putin, condemning the neo-Soviet crackdown in no uncertain terms.
Russia and its Rogues
No reader of this blog can have been surprised by Russia’s siding with the lunatic ruler of North Korea after he fired an ICBM over Japan in the direction of the United States a week ago.
Paul Goble reports:
Moscow is unlikely to follow the demand of one Russian churchman and declare Amway an “extremist” organization, but the way the Russian government compiles its ever-lengthening list of “extremist materials” guarantees any number of constitutional and legal absurdities, according to a Russian lawyer.
In an analysis posted online, Pavel Protasov describes the way in which the list of extremist materials is currently being compiled and updated – the last update is available online – in order to show why this should be but isn’t an April Fool’s joke. “On April 1, when all progressive humanity was marking a holiday,” the Moscow lawyer writes, “the latest updating of the list of extremist materials” – including films, books, articles, and other items that courts in various parts of the country had declared extremist and subject to ban – “appeared on the official website of the [Russian Federation’s] justice ministry.”
Dmitri Sidorov, Washington correspondent for Kommersant, writing in Forbes:
Have you ever confirmed receipt of real donkey ears shipped by FedEx? Not likely, I’d guess. Unless you work in Moscow at Novaya Gazeta, the Russian weekly famed for exposing Kremlin corruption and defending human rights. Journalists at the newspaper, which the Russian government considers unpatriotic and unnecessary, recently received severed donkey ears in a box with a note: “From the presidential administration…”
My heart goes out to the donkey, but my primary purpose here is not to address the issue of cruelty to animals. From threats that unnerve to bullets that kill, the difficulties that critically minded journalists in Russia are encountering are numerous and significant. The Donkey Defense Union will have to wait.
The following is an open letter to Vladimir Putin from human rights advocate Sergei Kovalyov, published on the Yezhedevny Zhurnal website and translated by The Power Vertical, which calls Kovalyov “the conscience of Russia.” One must wonder how long this “conscience” will be allowed to go on breathing.
On the night of March 31-April 1, Lev Aleksandrovich Ponomaryov — a former deputy of the Supreme Soviet and then of the Russian State Duma, a noted public activist both at home and abroad, a democrat with an undisputed reputation within the human-right community — was savagely attacked.
No one doubts that this outrage was obviously political in nature. Unfortunately, there is politically motivated violence all around us and even murders have become a fact of daily life for us. I will not bother to recount for you the long and mournful list of political massacres — your assistants can easily present you with all the particulars.
But what is immediately evident in cases where political motivation is obvious is that the victims are always critics and opponents of the authorities. Why is this, Mr. President? What do you think?