Putin is the disease, democracy is the cure.
The Moscow Times reports:
Siberian investigators are seeking jail terms over a prank in which a billboard (shown above) for a clinic treating sexually transmitted diseases was doctored to include less-than-flattering portraits of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin.
Time for the Old Switcheroo
On February 20th, activists from Roman Dobrokhotov’s “We” movement hung a fifty-square-meter banner, shown above, from a bridge directly opposite the Moscow Kremlin. You can view photos of the unfurling on the blog of “We” activist Ilya Varlamov.
The banner showed photos of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in a presidential gaze, and Vladimir Putin, behind bars, and invited viewers to consider the possibility that it was time, as LR founder Kim Zigfeld said on Siberian Light several years ago, for the two to change places.
We’ve written about Dobrokhotov before. He’s made many spectacular and direct challenges to the dictatorial rule of Vladimir Putin, but none more awesome and fearless than this one. Make no mistake: Putin shoots people for doing stuff like this, shoots them dead.
In a truly thrilling op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Milov, Russia’s terrific trio, lay down withering crossfire against the advancing legions of the Putin dictatorship:
This year started quite symbolically in Russia. In the last days of 2010, government authorities decided to demonstrate their power and their intolerance for being challenged: The verdict issued at the farcical trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev had no relation to jurisprudence; leading opposition figures were detained for as many as 15 days on purely political grounds.
These heavy-handed actions set a peculiar stage for President Dmitry Medvedev’s address at the World Economic Forum. Nevertheless, the intelligent and well-informed audience in Davos enthusiastically applauded his nice words about Russia’s economic modernization and dynamic democratic development. International business leaders seem to accept his complaints that few Russians understand his great plans for the country’s future, which greedy oligarchs and corrupt officials from the 1990s prevent him from undertaking.
Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times, asks why her countrymen are so pathetically spineless:
In an interview with Gazeta.ru, Natalya Vasilyeva, assistant to Judge Viktor Danilkin in the second criminal case against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, said Danilkin had to obtain approval from the Moscow City Court — and higher — for each of his actions, and that the city court wrote the verdict that Danilkin read at the trial.
There were two surprising things about the interview with Vasilyeva. The first is her claim that Danilkin considered the process unjust and was out of sorts as a result. If that is true, it is unexpected because people tend to rationalize their actions. I find it hard to believe that the average NKVD officer really considered himself an inhumane executioner, despite the historical record showing him to be exactly that.
The second is that, if Vasilyeva spoke the truth, it is amazing how easily Danilkin buckled under pressure and sold out his ideals. After all, what would have happened to him if he had acquitted Khodorkovsky?
Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:
One of the hot discussion topics in Russia these days is the revolutionary events in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen and other Arab states. For years — even decades — these countries have been led by harsh, authoritarian regimes that are just as unscrupulous in using force against dissenters as they are in finding ways to enrich their ruling dictators and their families. It has become fashionable to theorize that the Russian regime — just as unscrupulous and corrupt, with a brutal leader who recently marked 10 years in power — could become one of the next rotten autocracies to collapse. But there is no reason to make such a prediction. Russia is fundamentally different from the countries of the Arab world, and Russian society and politics are developing along a completely different path.
Writing on Gazeta.ru Vladimir Milov delivers a one-two punch to the solar plexus of Vladimir Putin on the issue of nationality, along with his partner in opposition Boris Nemtsov. The latter handles the Caucaus region, while Milov addresses Putin’s weakness much closer to home. Paul Goble reports:
Russia’s liberals have ceded issues like migration and the violence in the North Caucasus to the nationalists by failing to address them openly and honestly and to offer programs for their resolution, a shortcoming that has helped to marginalize the liberals in Russia and give the nationalists an undeserved victory, a liberal commentator says
In a commentary on Gazeta.ru, Vladimir Milov, the head of the Democratic Choice Movement and of the Institute of Energy Policy, argues that the Manezh Square violence must become “a serious occasion” for re-assessing “the influence and role of nationalism and the factor of inter-ethnic relations in Russian politics.
Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:
A video titled “Primorye Partisan” has been making the rounds on the Internet. It was made by a gang of self-proclaimed guerrillas in the Primorye region that led an armed attack against policemen. They are suspected of killing two policemen and wounding six others between February and June.
One of their slogans is “Grab a weapon and save your soul” — something that is close to what guerrilla fighters in the Caucasus have said and done. Imagine that these guerrillas surfaced in the United States and started shooting at cops. I think the public would call them the new Manson family.