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Russia not free

On Saturday, there was this, from Helen Szamuely

The most recent news from Russia, apart from the ongoing saga of Yukos, which is being destroyed by the government partly to punish its Chairman, Khodorkovsky, for trying to break away from it and for giving money to the political opposition and partly to restore control of the production of energy to the state, has been one of a new law presented to the Lower House of the Duma. This will specify that foreigners who can be shown to have criticized Russia, its people and its culture, which, one must assume, includes the political structure, can be refused a visa without further ado.

One has to accept that a country must be able to choose whether to allow certain people to enter its territory. However, Russia until recently has proclaimed its intention to become an open country like other open countries (give or take complete state control of the media and the abolition of elections on regional level and of individual deputies of the Duma). If this law goes through, all pretence will be finally abandoned.

… and then yesterday, this, from Freedom House (thank you Instapundit):

Political rights and civil liberties have become so restricted in Russia that the country has been downgraded to “Not Free,” Freedom House announced in a major survey of global freedom released today.

Mark me down as a foreigner who can be shown to have criticized Russia, by which I mean the bit of Russia (the bit in charge) that did this to the rest of Russia.

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7 comments to Russia not free

  • Euan Gray

    Russia has had no experience of democracy before 1991, and even less experience of any semblance of a free society.

    You expect all this to change overnight?

    EG

  • Color me shocked. Russia’s political history is not exactly noted for it’s wild embrace of civil libterties. Regardless of the precise form of government – czarist, communist dictatorship, or ‘democracy’ – it seems that Russia always settles right back into the tyranny to which it is accustomed.

  • Post on Russia filed under “Asian affiars”; that is the best indicator of how bad the things really are…

  • Johnathan

    The thing that amazes me, as one who has written a bit in his day job about overseas investment, is how complacent a lot of folk in the West still are. However, I think the sheer brazenness of Putin’s grab of YUKOS has started to wake people up.

    No wonder the price of crude oil is looking so strong.

  • The people of Ukraine, faced with a potentially authoritarian dictator as well, have protested vehemently against the bogus elections and called for new ones. The people of Russia somehow cannot rise above their situation and take charge. Putin is destroying civil liberties, censoring the media, censoring dissent in general! Two 16 yr old boys were fined 5 years in jail for saying “down with putin” during a peaceful protest about social security. Yeltsin was a revolutionary and Russia was on its way to democracy and full inclusion into the western world. Why anyone would elect a previous KGB agent to be president is beyond me..but the apathy amond Russians has to end!!

  • The people of Ukraine, faced with a potentially authoritarian dictator as well, have protested vehemently against the bogus elections and called for new ones. The people of Russia somehow cannot rise above their situation and take charge. Putin is destroying civil liberties, censoring the media, censoring dissent in general! Two 16 yr old boys were fined 5 years in jail for saying “down with putin” during a peaceful protest about social security. Yeltsin was a revolutionary and Russia was on its way to democracy and full inclusion into the western world. Why anyone would elect a previous KGB agent to be president is beyond me..but the apathy amond Russians has to end!!

  • Dave Moran

    As a teacher of World History for many years, I can’t help but to remark at the consistent trend of either complacency or apathy that Russian citizens have displayed in the face of authoritarianism. It is concievable that they are simply unaccustomed to the civil obligations of a “free people” to petition or assemble in protest of their government. Add to that a leader that not only endorses, but has enacted, restrictions on expression (speech, press, etc.) in order to maintain stability, and you find a recipe for a new Russian autocracy.