Staunton, February 3 – The Nikita Belykh case means that “liberals should not have any illusions” about Russia today, Anton Orekh says. “There is no real ‘systemic’ liberal opposition” in the country, and Vladimir Putin will not permit “a little island of moderate liberalism to be created in Kirov.”
More than that, the Moscow commentator says, the Belykh case should lead Russian liberals and others to draw three conclusions. First, Orekh says, “even a single liberal region for present-day Russia is like an infection.” Those who fail to understand that will end in prison if they don’t conform to Putin’s will (echo.msk.ru/blog/oreh/2140926-echo/).
Second, he continues, the sentence handed down against Belykh was in fact one handed down against everyone” who doesn’t share Putin’s vision. “Don’t think that the sentence given to Nikita Belykh is the story of some former governor. This is a story about each of us.” Putin will do what he has to do to prevent any liberalism from having any chance to work.
And third, Orekh says, the case leads ineluctably to the conclusion that everyone regardless of views or actions is now at risk. “If you think that you are free because you haven’t done anything bad, then you are confused! You are free only because the hands [of the Kremlin] haven’t reached out to you yet.”
“In our country, there is no justice; and this means that absolutely anyone can fall behind bars at any possible moment.” It is only a question of losing as it were in “an anti-lottery.” But the misfortune is even greater than that, the Moscow commentator says.
“Already now in the camps and under investigation are thousands of ordinary people on the basis of fabricated cases or undergoing punishment which they don’t deserve. Thousands about whom no one speaks but who very much exist. The Belykh sentence is simply a reminder that anyone may be next.”