Staunton, June 5 – The use of prisoners as workers in the Russian economy was “a hit at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum,” Kirill Martynov says; and this possibility prompted discussions among business leaders as to which “models of work with prisoners at construction sites” would be the most effective.
The political editor of Novaya gazeta says this shows just how much this Forum has changed. Two years ago, the arrest of Ivan Golunov sparked outrage among company officials attending and the Putin government felt compelled to release him. Now, the Kremlin is talking about using prisoners as workers (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/06/05/biznes-plan-gulag).
“In 2019,” Martynov continues, “it was still considered that the persecution of journalists did no make possible a good investment climate.” But “since then, Russia has changed significantly, and the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum has lost its last link with reality” – and its participants haven’t spoken out against the rising tide of repression.
This year, “the forum became something self-contained event, one where no bad news could spoil the investment climate.” That has already occurred, Martynov says. Only those who are willing to put up with anything the regime can dream up to do are still talking to Moscow, and these are few and far between.
And so when the issue of using prisoners as workers, GULAG-style, came up, those at the Forum were more than happy to talk about such a program and how it could work. Thus, Russia is moving backwards in its historical journey, and there are fewer and fewer people abroad willing to cooperate in that disaster.
Indeed, it would seem that there is less and less of a reason to have such meetings in the future. After all, if the few who come will support a GULAG state, what more could Vladimir Putin and his regime seek to achieve after that?