Thursday, November 22, 2007

Headline of the Day (Russian politics edition)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This is not a good time for Russian liberals:


An opposition politician running in Russian parliamentary elections was shot and seriously wounded on Wednesday as he entered his house in the southern Russian region of Dagestan, Russian media reported.

Farid Babayev, who will lead the regional list for the liberal anti-Kremlin Yabloko party was in a serious condition in hospital, RIA novosti news agency reported after an unidentified gunman fired on him in the regional capital Makhachkala.

The Reuters article implies that separatists may have been behind the attack: "Dagestan is in the North Caucasus, next to Chechnya, and has been hit by an upsurge in separatist attacks in recent months and crime."

But, of course, given that it was a liberal who was shot, speculation turns to Putin. At least, mine does.

But, to be fair to the Kremlin's latest tyrant, Babayev is hardly Kasparov and his party is too small to secure representation in Russia's parliament. Would Putin trouble himself with Babayev and Yabloko? Would his extremist supporters take it upon themselves to go after such a minor threat to Putin? Likely not. Maybe it was separatists after all.

Still, this is what Russia has become, an autocratic state with Putin at the helm, cracking down on dissent and opposition and otherwise seeking to remain in power indefinitely, a state in which the shooting of a liberal politician seems like something that would be ordered at the highest level, or at least undertaken by those who ultimately take their orders from the highest level. If Putin is capable of banning liberal parties and using the police to crush the pro-democracy movement, which he clearly is, and if he is capable of ordering (or at least in some way of being behind) the murders of some of his critics, which he may very well be, then he is surely capable of this. At the very least, he has created a political culture in which this sort of thing can happen.

Is that unfair to Putin? Am I making too much of this?

Bush can look into his heart and see what he wants to see, but it doesn't take much to look at the facts and to know what he's really all about.

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  • Happy Thanksgiving Michael J.W. I hope you and yours have a splendid day. I'm thankful for you and your talented co-bloggers as well as living in a land where dissent is still a virtue.

    By Blogger cwilcox, at 9:13 AM  

  • I want to wish you, Michael, Libby, Carl, Captain, Carol, et. al., and all the commenters who visit here a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:04 AM  

  • Thank you both very much. You're very kind. Unfortunately, being in Canada, we don't have the day off. Which is a bit of a nuisance, given the storm that just hit us, but I'm following the Packers-Lions game at and looking forward to more football this evening. We had our Thanksgiving last month.

    Anyway, we're privileged to have you both as regular commenters, and hopefully, with time, there will be more commenters to join in and to make this blog much more community-oriented.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 3:59 PM  

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