Staunton, Nov. 16 – Since Putin rose to power in 2000, he has regularly engaged in tightening the screws on Russians, increasing repression across the board. Now, Darya Kozlova of Novaya Gazeta.Evropa says, he has taken another step in that direction by tightening what he calls “the bindings” that hold Russians together.
Such moves, which appear to reflect Kremlin nervousness about the state of Russian society in the face of increasing defeats in Ukraine, are now coming at such a fast pace that the journalist simply lists seven of them which have surfaced in the last week alone and discusses what each may mean (novayagazeta.eu/articles/2022/11/16/zakruchivanie-skrep).
The first of these moves involves a proposal now before the Duma that expands the list of crimes for which those who have acquired Russian citizenship can be stripped of it. Valentina Chupik, a defender of migrant rights, says that this is all about pitting Russians against immigrants to distract attention from defeats in Ukraine.
Given Moscow’s defeats in Ukraine, the regime wants to shift attention from enemies abroad to enemies at home, she says; and immigrants are an easy target. The authorities are trying to portray “immigrants of non-Slavic appearance’ as very bad people who claim Russian citizenship to gain benefits without paying taxes or serving in the Russian army.”
The second move was the announcement by the justice ministry that as of December 1, it will publish the personal data of all individuals listed as foreign agents. Activist say that this will make it harder for such people to live and work and may even put them at risk of physical violence by those looking for enemies.
The third involves a call for requiring young women aged 15 to 18 to get parental approval before getting an abortion. Not only does this promote the hierarchical families Putin favors but it almost certainly guarantees that more such women will seek illegal abortions putting themselves and their babies at risk.
The fourth is a proposal before the Duma that would make it easier for young people still in school to go to work. While many see that as a useful step, liberalizing rules and helping overcome Russia’s labor shortages, experts say that it will have the effect of leading many young people to end their educations prematurely thus putting Russia’s future at risk.
The fifth step involves the return of Soviet-style primary military preparation to the schools, something that if implemented, especially in conjunction of courses promoting patriotism now being introduced, will reduce the quality of education and in fact be used to track young men so that they can be more readily called to military service.
And the sixth and seventh are interrelated, with some now calling for introducing criminal as opposed to only administrative penalties for what Moscow calls “LGBT propaganda” and others insisting on imposing a ban on video games which supposedly promote homosexuality.
Observers say that the first of these simply continues a trend that Moscow has been following more generally and can be expected to happen, leaving Russia even more at odds with the rest of the world regarding homosexual rights; but they say the latter is unlikely given the difficulties of implementing it.