The Legalization of the Neo-Soviet State
We have grown genuinely weary of reporting, week after week, a somber new low in the history of the neo-Soviet KGB state of Vladimir Putin known as Russia. Each time we do so, cynics though we may be, we find it hard to imagine how Russia could sink any deeper into the mire of failure and self-destruction. But once again, Russia has surprised us.
And, no, we’re not talking about the revelation that a hoard of Russian soliders stole credit cards off the corpses of dead Polish government officials following the Smolensk air disaster. That display of Russia patriotism was truly horrific, but this week it didn’t qualify for top billing.
The day we have been predicting for some time here on this blog has now arrived, even more quickly than we imagined: Vladimir Putin is moving rapidly to legalize and formalize the neo-Soviet state he has been building in Russia for more than a decade.
Putin’s newest legislative initiative restores powers to Russia’s organs of power that are identical to what was wielded by the KGB in Soviet times. The national police will be permitted to arrest anyone and hold them for weeks without charges, interrogating them in secret without access to legal counsel, families or colleagues. Putin, in other words, is legalizing torture.
What’s more, the new measures, flouting the very notion of constitutional rights or rule of law, are fully applicable to journalists. Any journalist writing anything the Kremlin doesn’t like will be subject to arrest without charge and interrogation for days on end for the purpose of intimidation.
The Putin Kremlin is abolishing dissent, just as was the case in Soviet times. Under the guise of battling “extremism,” Putin is embarking upon the final crackdown on Russian civil society. Ironically, even as Putin mumbles about “extremism,” he ignores it. Alexander Verkhovsky of the SOVA Centre states:
“Some Neo-Nazi groups, they sent us death threats by email or by phone. Some even came to my house. They even sent me a video. It explained that I am an enemy of the Russian people, that I support terrorists. My house was exposed, my address, my photo. Officially, I was never called to the police station. They never called me on the phone. They are not interested in this type of investigation and really are not involved.”
The Putin regime doesn’t have any problem, in other words, with extremism as long as it is targeted at those the regime itself wishes to destroy. If extremists target critics of the Kremlin, the Putin mafia has no problem turning a blind eye, or even giving a helping hand (as certainly was the case with Alexander Litvinenko and Anna Politkovskaya). But let anyone open her or his mouth to point out the Kremlin’s flaws, and immediately that person is branded a “traitor” and an “extremist” and packed off to a Siberian prison, just like in Soviet and Tsarist times.
It’s genuinely sad that the people of Russia maintain such apelike, barbaric ignorance that they cannot realize how this policy blinds Russia to reality, prevents it from innovating and developing, compels it to languish in a backwater of civilization with an average life expectency that does not rank in the top 100 nations of the world.