Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Russia: A Half-Step From A Police State

The score in Vladimir Putin's Russia is a skosh in his favor -- 447 to 4, maybe 5 -- but that's not enough for him to allow complacency.

Having almost every member of the Duma loyal to the neo-Tsar is not the same has having all the Duma loyal, so yesterday, Russia's Supreme Court liquidated Russia's Republican party, claiming that it had violated electoral law by having too few members.

Sound a bit Kafkaesque? "To keep the opposition from becoming larger, we will ban them for being small."

The Kremlin's powerhouse Duma recently passed a new election law that said all parties must have at least 50,000 members and be represented in half of Russia's provinces. The law is seen by opposition as a scheme to kill off smaller parties that oppose the Kremlin -- and it's evident it's quite effective in that regard.
Vladimir Ryzhkov, the leader of the Republican party, said yesterday that the ban was part of a Kremlin-inspired campaign to crack down on dissent. "This is part of the Kremlin's policy of suppressing the opposition. It's being done to prevent opposition parties from taking part in elections," he told the Guardian. "This is the fate any opposition party in Russia." (The Guardian)
The ban ame in the face of continued anti-Putin demostrations by The Other Russia, which has proven that it can gather 5,000 or so people at locations throughout the country, in defiance of bans on their movement. Witness how hard the supporters of Putin -- have you ever noticed how his name of onomopoeic of a wad of spit launching towards, then hitting a spittoon? -- strain to contain the group:

Organisers of today's rally in Nizhny Novgorod say they have faced widespread intimidation by the city's pro-Kremlin authorities. Earlier this week police from the special organised crime unit of Russia's interior ministry seized 60,000 copies of an opposition newspaper due to be distributed during the demonstration.

The mayor's office announced a children's festival on the site of the proposed march, and blocked off the road to carry out what it said were urgent repairs.

Another small anti-Putin party, the National Bolsheviks, were crushed last week.

Why the iron boot? I can't help but think that Putin is putting his cards in place to continue serving is Russia's Tsar, er, president when his term expires in 2008.

hat-tip: memorandum

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