Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Just kidding Vlad, please don't kill me!

This is probably not a very wise statement to make, but the Russians are seriously starting to piss me off! It's not enough that every journalist who voices a mild criticism of the Medvedev Putin regime dies under suspicious circumstances (like getting shot whilst in police custody or strangled with a belt), but now even the the lawyers of the surviving families are getting hit. Famous human rights defender Karinna Moskalenko was rushed to hospital today, after which large amounts of what will likely turn out to be mercury, were discovered in her car. She was supposed to represent the family of the murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaja in the Russian courts today.

The Wikipedia page devoted to journalists killed in Russia (the fact that such a page exists is frightening enough in itself) contains over 75 names and only goes back as far as 1994. It's a terrifying number which speaks volumes about the lack of freedom the Russian press endure, but it also says a lot about a government that is so arrogant that they barely try to conceal their content when another critical voice is silenced.

Diplomatic relations with Russia have also been notoriously difficult for years. The language used by the Kremlin and it's representatives is nothing short of hostile, if not aggressive. We should not kid ourselves into believing the harsh political climate is of a temporary nature. Putin has been buiding an empire from the start, and it will take enormous international effort to prevent Russia from becoming an even bigger threat to the former Soviet region than it already is.

What I don't get is how it got this far, again! The Russian people (historically, I'm sad to say I've never been there myself) seem to have a strange addiction to totalitarianism. They suffered the Tsars and the communist dictators, then a period of confusion (Gorbachev) and drunkeness (Yeltsin), and went back to business with a ruthless former KGB chief who would sooner give the whole Russian presscore radiation poisoning than answer to one of them about his policies. Why won't real democracy stick? Is it the old ideal of a strong leader who will make everything better if you just grant him enough power? Fear to express your opinions that has been passed on from generation to generation? A deeply rooted mistrust of western liberal values?

I don't have the answer of course, but I do hope the brave voices of the free press will not allow themselves to be silenced, because 'pravda' must prevail.

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