Staunton, November 7 – All governments schedule their announcements to achieve maximum benefit for themselves, trumpeting things they are proud of at times when they can count on the widest possible coverage and allowing other, less noble, enterprises to be reported when the leaders assume other events will overshadow these things in the public mind.
Vladimir Putin is especially adept at timing his moves in this way, and thus it is important to keep track of some of the negative things he is doing that often become public precisely when people are looking mostly at something else be it the Sochi Olympiad or as now the centenary of the Bolshevik revolution.
There are at least five such developments in Putin’s Russia over the last few days that should generate concern not only in that country but elsewhere. They are as follows:
· First and most serious, the Putin government has shifted from charging its opponents with extremism to bringing them to court for the far more serious crime of terrorism, thus opening the way to a new wave of much harsher repression (ixtc.org/2017/11/peterburgskim-oppozitsioneram-grozit-obvinenie-v-terrorizme/ and ivpavlova.blogspot.com/2017/11/blog-post_6.html).
· Second, the Russian interior ministry has announced that since the start of 2017, it has arrested 800 members of ethnic criminal groups, a departure from past practice of insisting that “crime has no nationality” and that suggests Moscow may now be far more prepared to target non-Russians and encourage xenophobia against them (iz.ru/666416/aleksandra-krasnogorodskaia/printcip-personalnoi-otvetstvennosti-deistvuet-dlia-vsekh).
· Third, and reflecting the convergence of the KPRF and Russian nationalists, the Karelian branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation has quoted with approval on its website lines from the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (forum-msk.org/material/news/13931024.html and versia.ru/kommunisty-i-patrioty-idut-na-vybory-edinoj-kolonnoj).
· Fourth, in yet another case of the Kremlin’s sleight of hand in which it makes the regions responsible for things Moscow doesn’t provide them with the support to do, Vladimir Putin has laid the responsibility for the so-called “deceived debtors” on the governors even though the power to regulate the banks is situated not in regional capitals but in Moscow (politsovet.ru/57112-putin-vozlozhil-otvetstvennost-za-obmanutyh-dolschikov-na-gubernatorov.html).
· And fifth, Novyye izvestiya has exposed what is an increasing reality in Russian life: the police are too busy repressing the population and thus displaying their loyalty to the regime that they have no time to investigate or fight crime even if they are provided with all the evidence in certain cases to be easily able to do so (newizv.ru/news/incident/07-11-2017/glavnoe-demonstratsii-pochemu-v-peterburge-politsiya-otkazyvaetsya-rassledovat-prestupleniya).