Paul Goble explains the Kremlin’s use of the Georgia invasion as a shabby pretext for even more draconian crackdowns on civil soviety in Russia itself:
Moscow’s moves in Georgia are having a profound impact on Russian domestic politics and policies, not only tightening the relationship between Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin but sparking the kind of witch hunts for “a fifth column” that presage even more repression at least in the short term.
The interrelationship between Russia’s foreign and domestic politics and policies has always been closer than many either there or in the West have assumed. And as the fallout from the Georgian events shows, this linkage is now closer than ever before, according to an article in today’s Nezavizimaya gazeta.
Surveying the opinion of the expert community in Moscow, the paper’s Vladimir Razumov argues that many are convinced that Medvedev and Putin responded to the Georgian moves in South Ossetia in the way that they did because the Russian people, increasingly affected by the nationalist rhetoric of the Kremlin, was more than prepared to go along. Initially, he points out, some commentators suggested that Moscow would not respond to Georgia’s action because South Ossetia was not central to the Russian government’s interest in pocketing the profits from the export of oil and gas. Indeed, many felt, there was a sense that any action could put those profits at risk.
We’ve previously documented the shockingly long list of political murders of Kremlin enemies which have occurred on Vladimir Putin’s watch, with not a single mastermind of any such killing ever being brought to justice. Now, we can add yet another name to that horrible litany. The Moscow Times reports:
The owner of the embattled opposition web site Ingushetiya.ru was killed Sunday after being detained by police, and his supporters promised massive protests that could lead to a sharp escalation in violence in the restive region.
Paul Goble has published an extremely important analysis showing how Boris Yeltsin “laid the foundations for Putinism” and how Vladimir Putin is laying the foundations for something “even worse” — dare we call it “Neo-Sovietism”? Such a policy, of course, portends Russia’s utter implosion, just as occurred in the USSR. Goble warns that many in Russia itself understand the risk that places like Chechnya will now use this precedent to demand enforced separation from Russia, and even relations with places like Serbia have now been damaged.
Boris Yeltsin’s support for the rise of the oligarchs and the latter’s decision to turn to the siloviki in order to protect themselves from any challenge from the people laid the foundations for Vladimir Putin to construct his increasingly authoritarian regime, according to the leader of the liberal Yabloko party. But as depressing as that trend has been, several recen tarticles in the Russian press called attention to the appearance of a new history textbook for Russian school children which argues that Stalin’s terror was justified as “an instrument of development,” a message which suggests Putin has plans for an even more draconian system than the one he oversees now.
For the benefit of those who are not long-time readers of this blog, Oleg Kozlovsky is the leader of an opposition group in Russia called “Oborona” (“Defense”).
Several months ago, just as he was about to take part in the formation of new shadow parliament organization called the National Assembly, he was drafted into the Army although he was both medically and educationally except. The Washington Post, among others, reported on the illegality of his treatment, and then gave him an op-ed to explain the situation further. Oleg recently opened an English-language blog where he lays out further details (he’s also been arrested numerous times on spurious charges, often preemptively to keep him from participating in protest rallies).
Now Oleg’s blog reports that Oborona’s coordinator in the city of Kemerova, one Dimitri Solovyev, has been arrested and charged with “extremism” because of five posts he wrote on his Russian language Live Journal blog.