Putin’s Final Purge
Given Vladimir Putin’s 75% approval ratings in opinion polls, one would not have thought it would have been necessary for him to purge every single opposition party and deputy from the Russian Duma and to seize control of every single TV station and major newspaper.
But Putin knows his approval rating is smoke and mirrors, so in fact it is quite necessary.
And having wiped out opposition politics in the Duma and achieved a chokehold on the media, one would not have thought it would have been necessary for Putin, in the manner of Stalin, to aggressively seek to liquidate every last vestige of opposition outside the mainstream corridors of power. One might have thought Putin clever enough to realize how much such an effort would look like desperation, weakness and cowardice.
But Putin is so blind now that he, like Stalin before him, can no longer perceive reality accurately and is mired in abject paranoia.
And so it was that the Moscow Times reported last week that Putin launched yet another full-scale offensive on all the last vestigial traces of opposition left in the country. “Liberal” Dima Medvedev’s voice was nowhere to be heard.
According to the MT, the United Russia party has published a “paper” accusing the Other Russia coalition, led by Garry Kasparov, Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Kasyanov, of corruption and spying for the West. Maxim Grigoryev, head of the Fund on Research of Democracy Problems, the think tank that drafted the report on UN’s behalf, stated ominously: “The public must no longer support those politicians and representatives of the public sector.” Note that he didn’t say “should not” but “must no longer.” Sound pretty much like a threat, doesn’t it?
The report even goes so far as to name the shoestring Oborona protest organization led by human rights laureate Oleg Kozlovsky. It accuses them of “receiving financial support from foreign groups and exiled Russian tycoons, using the money for personal enrichment, bribery and deceiving voters.” The only original source material it claims is “anonymous interviews with rank-and-file opposition activists.” That’s right, anonymous.
The MT reports:
Ilya Yashin, a senior Solidarity official who formerly headed Oborona and Yabloko’s youth branch, is accused in the report of receiving money for opposition activities from former Yukos co-owner Leonid Nevzlin, who fled to Israel in 2003. Yashin called the accusations “a lie” in a brief telephone interview Thursday. Kasparov, accused in the report of asking exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky for money to finance his opposition activities, earlier denied any ties to Berezovsky in an interview with The Moscow Times.
The MT quotes Pavel Danilin, a consultant at the Effective Policy Foundation, a think tank with strong ties to the Kremlin: “They are not accountable and not transparent, and this is a big problem.” The MT reminds readers that in 2007 Danilin co-authored a book titled Putin’s Enemies that describes then-President Vladimir Putin as “Russia’s enemies.” Danilin defines “corruption” as including “legal or illegal actions that contradict the public interests.” It’s hard to believe this, isn’t it? Is he really saying that legal acts that violate “the public interest” as the Kremlin defines it constitute corruption? Yes, that’s exactly what he’s saying.
How is it possible that the Kremlin is still so afraid of Other Russia, a group which has zero members of parliament? Is the Kremlin really so fundamentally weak that it feels it must entirely liquidate the group before it can feel safe?
You bet it is. And so in a way, this is good news. Barred from the corridors of power, Other Russia is still making headway, forcing the Kremlin to use gestapo tactics against it and exposing the KGB thugs who run it for what they are.