Arm-twisting in Russia

MUSCOVITES ARE experiencing a crackdown.

Czar Vladimir Putin’s administration wrote a new leaf in suppressing the opposition’s protest call when they not only ransacked houses of opposition stalwarts but also filtered through their personal computes. Yet that could not deter a sizeable number of people from taking to the streets, as they called for fresh parliamentary and presidential elections. The opposition has been up in arms for quite some time as allegations of fraud and irregularities poured in. The infant civil society has been on the heels to persuade the Kremlin to give in to reforms, and strengthen institutions and laws rather than shielding behind personality cults. Harassment and victimisation of the opposition have unfortunately become the order of the day. But the opposition parties — who performed quite well in the local bodies elections last year — had to face a route as the iron hand tactics got them booked and subsequently marginalised in a host of issues. President Putin’s third-term victory hasn’t been acknowledged by an overwhelming section of the society that contests the swap-like politics going on between him and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. However subtle the calls for reforms may be, the fact is that Russia is changing for good and there is no room for dictatorial tendencies. The ballot awareness has made its mark and Russia’s intelligentsia, academicians and political workers now aspire to act as the shadow government earnestly.

Putin’s strong arms legislative tactics such as rounding up of protesters without any recourse to justice and penalising them with heavy fines are quite worrisome. This could come to stall the modernisation moves that Putin is so eager to achieve. Moreover, the manner in which the opposition is being sidelined in the affairs of the state — even though it has some valid points to make — is not good for democratic credentials of the Stalinist state. Such repressive policies are, indeed, a negation of the strength that Russia poses as a responsible power in the region and the world at large. Putin Eurasia vision and his articulated nationalism is in need of embracing the opposition’s point of view.

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