Thursday, August 24, 2017

Russians Don’t Understand Government Bans Don’t Make Them More Secure, Afanasyev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 24 – Russians “aren’t used to freedom; they are used to prohibitions,” Sergey Afanasyev says; and they assume not only that there is little difference between more prohibitions and fewer but also that more prohibitions will make the state stronger and tthemselves more secure.

            That explains, the Moscow commentator says, why “no one reacted to the prohibition of the Bible in the translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Russians hate those who are able to use their freedom and realize their rights.”  And “this is one of the reasons for their hatred of the Jehovah’s Witnesses” (

            According to Afanasyev, “the logic of an uncivilized country, the society of a society stuck in Asiatic medievalism is that the more prohibitions, the stronger the state.” There is no recognition that such prohibitions leave society weaker and less secure and that they do nothing to stop the real threats to Russians like the Surgut terrorist presented. 

            But as horrific as the popular acquiescence in the banning of the Bible in the Jehovah’s Witness translation, he continues, there is something even worse at work. The government media constantly talks about bringing to responsibility believers of this or that denomination, and the average Russia is so “legally illiterate” he doesn’t understand the differences between criminal and administrative rules.

            If someone violates administrative rules, he is assumed to be a criminal.  As a result, Afanasyev says, a view of believers “as criminals and violators of the law” is being formed in Russian society; and that in turn is creating the grounds for making criminal what are now only administrative violations. Few Russians will notice the difference.

            And they will fail to see, he concludes, that their state with all its bans on religious activity is doing little or nothing to make them more secure in the face of terrorists or criminals.

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