In Light of Kiev, Will Vladimir Putin Be Tightening the Screws Even Further on Russian Dissidents?

Julia Ioffe, at The New Republic, thinks so:

Moscow’s liberals are watching Kiev with a mix of horror, envy, and admiration: they’re just like us, but look at what they’ve been able to do against a president they didn’t like. Which is why Russian state controlled television is also showing a live feed of Kiev burning: you want to overthrow the government, well, watch the tires burn black through the night and the dead bodies stack up. This is what instability looks like, this is what democracy looks like.

Last time Kiev had protests, Putin put the finishing touch on killing democracy in Russia. This time, he is already busy tightening the screws. He is cracking down on DozhdTV, Russia’s last independent television station. He has ordered a propagandist makeover of RIA Novosti, a state-owned but fairly modern news agency, installing a fire-breathing ideologue to run it (this guy, if you’re curious). Today, Ekho Moskvy, Moscow’s largest radio station that is often sympathetic to the opposition, got a new general manager, a woman with a decade-long resume of faithfully serving the state propaganda machine. State TV is broadcasting Goebbels-like “documentaries” about the opposition called “The Biochemistry of Betrayal.” People who don’t agree with Putin have found their sources of income choked off; many are fleeing the country. 

Putin is tightening the screws, because this is what stability looks like and that, to Putin, by all accounts a man deeply traumatized by the chaotic, painful collapse of the Soviet Union, is worth any price. And the more unstable Ukraine gets, the tighter he’ll turn them. Just you wait.

Ioffe’s prediction seems pretty solid to me. If you’re a praying person, pray for those brave Pussy Riot women–and the others in Russia like them. And don’t forget Kiev. Let freedom ring.

What can Westerners do to help these people?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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