Staunton, September 7 – Vladimir Putin may or may not succeed in absorbing Belarus into Russia, but over the last two months, Moscow historian Sergey Medvedev says, the Kremlin leader has succeeded in transforming Russia into Belarus, eliminating most of the democratic arrangements that had set Russia off against its western neighbor.
In a blog post that Novyye izvestiya has now republished (newizv.ru/news/politics/07-09-2019/sergey-medvedev-za-dva-mesyatsa-rossiya-okonchatelno-prevratilas-v-belorussiyu), Medvedev lists seven of Putin’s “achievements” in this direction. As the historian puts it, Putin has “deprived” Russians of the following:
· The right to choose candidates, that is, even the conditional, imitation and fraudulent democracy which had existed up to now.
· The right to play even according to their draconian and intentionally unfillable rules.
· The right to protest, even peacefully and in a restricted way.
· The right to be on the streets of a city near where protests are occurring.
· The right to self-defense against unjustified and disproportional force by officers of the law enforcement agencies.
· The right to public expression of views the regime doesn’t want to hear.
· The right to a just court was taken away long ago, but now has been taken away even the right to expect that procedural norms will be followed.
Over the last two months, Medvedev concludes, Putin hasn’t managed to transform Russia into Turkmenistan but he has at least achieved what Alyaksandr Lukashenka has done in Belarus. Russia is now ready to take in Belarus because Russia now isn’t so different from what Belarus has long been.