Staunton, October 30 – Today, Russians and others are pausing to reflect about the horrors of the Stalinist past, Oleg Kozyrev says; but the focus on those years and their mass shootings “must not distract us from the fact that Russia today ranks first in Europe in political persecutions and is one of the leaders of all the countries of the world.”
Fortunately, in contrast to the Stalin era, “murders of political opponents are still rare,” although they are happening, the Rosbalt commentator says. And there are ever more attacks, attempts at pressure, threats and discrimination for political reasons that touch “hundreds of thousands if not millions of people” (rosbalt.ru/posts/2017/10/30/1656903.html).
Kozyrev provides a check list. Who he asks is the present regime persecuting? The list is so long that he says he fears he may be leaving someone out. But among the most obvious targets are the following:
· Political opponents, with threats and attacks a commonplace and murders far from unheard of.
· Journalists, via criminal cases, attacks, threats, and murders as yet unsolved.
· Human Rights activists, with much the same pattern.
· Defense attorneys.
· Local activists, ecologists, union leaders and simply “active” citizens.
· Residents of the North Caucasus and, since the occupation of Crimea, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars.
· Russian nationalists.
· Bloggers of all sorts.
· Religious groups, including Old Believers, Catholics, Protestants, some Muslims, some Orthodox, Hindus, Molokane, Subbotniki, Khlysty, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, with punishments up to and including denial of parental rights.
· Artists, directors and musicians.
Russians in these groups as well as others the regime doesn’t approve of are losing their jobs or being expelled from schoool, forcibly confined to psychiatric hospitals, monitored, losing their children, confronted by pressure on relatives, suffering media attacks, trumped up cases, police provocations, and all the other attributes of a police state.
Stalin’s crimes must be denounced, but denouncing them must not be, as the Putin regime appears to hope, the occasion for ignoring the crimes being committed the Russian powers that be now. To the extent that happens, not only will more people suffer abuse but the abuse will only grow worse.