a push for full control
Russia’s crackdown on dissent is so relentless that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize just three weeks ago to newspaper editor Dmitry Muratov already looks like a mere spark from a match that has ended. quickly unfolded in the growing darkness.
This week alone, several allies of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny were arrested on suspicion of extremism and face up to 12 years in prison; the state blocked the OVD-Info website, which monitors police abuses and helps those arrested during political protests; and a court extended the sentence of historian Yuri Dmitriev to 15 years, in a sexual abuse case that his supporters say was fabricated to punish him for uncovering a Stalinist-era mass grave of prisoners policies executed.
Meanwhile, judges in Moscow have ordered the closure of Memorial, the main Russian civil society group, which chronicles the Soviet crackdown, commemorates its victims and defends today’s political prisoners such as Navalny. Muratov and the other Russian Living Peace Prize winner, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, urged the Kremlin to spare Memorial, but their call was ignored.
Since the February incarceration of Navalny, who nearly died last year in apparent poisoning by the security services, dozens of activists and journalists have been jailed or fled Russia, and their organizations rostered. black or forbidden, in the greatest wave of oppression to unleash. in the country’s post-Soviet history.
Memorial not only documented past and current abuses by authorities, but also defended the right of ordinary Russians to know how power is exercised by a top secret and corrupt state that acts with impunity.
But Putin’s ruling elite do not appreciate the scrutiny after two very lucrative decades in power, and view any organization or initiative that is not officially endorsed as inherently subversive.
This is the view of the former KGB officer at large as an ideology – in which the limits of the freedom of society will always be defined by the need for ever tighter state control and by personal interests. of those who exercise it.