Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Putin’s Neo-Totalitarianism Means Defenders of Human Rights Must Become Dissidents, Skobov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 13 – The logic of the Russian government’s case against Memorial, that you are an extremist if you defend the rights of extremists, reflects the evolution of the Putinist state from a neo-authoritarian to a neo-totalitarian one, Russian commentator Aleksandr Skobov argues.

            “This is a direct return to the purely totalitarian ‘juridical’ practice” in which any questioning of what the Soviet authorities did was classified “as ‘anti-Soviet propaganda’ or ‘slanderous fabrications which denigrated the Soviet social and state system,’” he continues (graniru.org/opinion/skobov/m.283109.html).

            Given that, Skobov says, it is dangerous and self-deluding nonsense to suggest that what the regime is doing represents “juridical illiteracy” or “idiotism.” Those concerned with human rights must recognize that once again, with the destruction of Memorial, and that “efforts to dispute with the government within its so-called ‘legal field’ are losing all meaning.”

            Today, one can defend the rights of the victims of political repression whether they be Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hizba members, Crimean Tatars, Navalny activists, or Otkrytki folllowers only by going beyond the late-Putin era ‘legal field, by breaking with late-Putinist legality,” Skobov says.

            And that in turn means that those who want to defend human rights must act as the Soviet human rights dissidents did, with all the ensuing consequences, including the prospect of becoming victims of political repression. One hopes, Skobov concludes, that there will be enough people of courage to give such a strategy prospects for success.

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