Mr. Putin and his “Extremists”
We’re guilty, and we admit it. If Vladimir Putin has any guts at all, he’ll indict us. We’ll be happy to pay our own way to Moscow to face his charges of “extremism.” In fact, in just today’s issue, we’re guilty of at least two different acts of extremism. Take us away!
Today in this issue we publish our own original translation of an article that appeared in the Russian newspaper Vedomosti, the Russian equivalent of the Wall Street Journal, this past April, authored by Maya Kucherskaya. Two months later, the Putin regime declared it to be “extremism” and forced the paper to remove the article from its website. One more such designation and Vedemosti is subject to being shut down by the Kremlin.
Kucherskaya is a highly trained scholar and writer and the recipient of two of Russia’s most prestigious awards for writing. But not in the eyes of the Kremlin, she’s not. Because she dared to analyze the recent spate of terrorist acts against Russia critically, in the Kremlin’s eyes she’s no different than Shamil Basayev and one of Russia’s most respected newspapers is on the verge of closure.
She’s not alone.
Painter (and blogger) Lena Hades is on the verge of being thrown in jail for painting the image that appears above, depicting the Russian two-headed eagle as drunk, anti-Semetic and racist, pathetically obsessed with its Soviet past and brutally violent. In the Kremlin’s view, such notions are also dangerously “extremist” and, in fact, just as “criminal” as the acts of Basayev.
Let’s be clear: Ms. Hades is on the brink of going to prison for painting the image that appears at the head of this column. The Kremlin believes she is a criminal. It’s exactly the same scenario, in other words, that held sway in Soviet times.
As in Soviet times, the Putin regime is so pathetically weak that it fears it can be brought down by paintings and op-ed columns. And you know what? The Putin regime is right! Vladimir Putin is just that illegitimate, just that lacking in real public mandate, and just that unable to wield power by making policy successes.
By republishing the text and the image, this blog is also, of course, guilty of extremism. By this standard, we’re guilty of extremism in every issue we release. So, if he has the guts, Mr. Putin should indict us. We’re obviously criminals, and our text may well lead the ridiculously fragile and weak edifice of the Putin regime to topple and collapse. We must be stopped!
But we don’t think Putin has the guts to face us in a court of law, not even a rigged Russia court. Doing that would expose Putin to ridicule, derision and international contempt the same way facing the likes of Anna Politkovskaya in court would have done. Vladimir Putin doesn’t have that kind of courage, and he showed that in the manner he dealt with Politkovskaya.
Any civilized, thinking person must be appalled by these revelations. Any such person must stand up and demand that the democracies of the West fight back against the return of Soviet government to Russia, especially given its nuclear fangs. And yet, what we see instead coming from the Obama administration in Washington DC is shocking cowardice, appeasement, and duplicity. Instead of confronting Russian “president” Dima Medvedev over these atrocities, Obama is munching cheeseburgers with him.