Staunton, February 14 – Some days, disturbing developments in Russia occur in such numbers that it is difficult to keep track. On the one hand, this overload may be simply an accident; but on the other, it may reflect a deliberate pattern in which the authorities act in an ugly way one place so that what they are doing elsewhere may be ignored.
Whatever the case, this year on Valentine’s Day, there were at least five reports that raise new concerns about the direction that Vladimir Putin is taking the country. And while some of what happens may be different than he intends, as his defenders insist just as Gorbachev’s did, the Kremlin leader is sufficiently powerful that he must be assigned responsibility.
The five pieces of bad news are the following:
Russian officials in Novosibirsk have fined Jews visiting their co-religionists there for engaging in missionary activity (
3. A senior member of the Russian Academy of Sciences wants to restrict the foreign travel of young Russian scholars lest they go abroad and then fail to return to their homeland and serve it ().
4. Russian-language tests required of Circassians coming from Syria and elsewhere abroad who want to gain permanent residence or citizenship in their historical homeland now within the borders of the Russian Federation are required to know Russian at the level of professional philologists, activists say, yet another means of keeping them out ().
5. Moscow is fully justified in banning the Jehovah’s Witnesses and all other religious groups whose headquarters are abroad because most are connected with Western intelligence services working against Russia, a Russian commentator says ().