Staunton, April 17 – With the poisoning and then imprisoning of Aleksey Navalny and the attacks on his key supporters as extremists who must be outlawed, “the era of legal politics in Russia is at an end. In its place has come a direct dictatorship, only weakly covered by the fig leaf of the remains of democratic procedures.”
The Navalny organization, the Russian commentator says, was “the last major legal political organization of the last few years.” The others have already been shuttered, and now the Kremlin is doing the same to Navalny’s “command.” Some oppositionists have given up, others are emigrating, and still others are going underground, but open politics is no more (forum-msk.org/material/news/17120300.html).
Under the current circumstances, “there are practically no legal ways out of this situation,” and “ahead is only the darkness of a new period of stagnation and dictatorship.” In posting this comment on his portal, Anatoly Baranov adds that the first stagnation under Brezhnev was “boring” but far from as dark as Putin’s now is.
Other commentators are making the same point as they track the way in which the Kremlin is working to crush all dissent. (For a useful chronology of the crackdown, see
That should be a lesson to all those who failed to speak out against Putin’s campaign against that religious group, all too often on the basis of an unspoken assumption that what as happening to the Witnesses was of no concern to them. Now, many of those with that attitude are suffering precisely because of Putin’s success in cracking down on the Witnesses.