My prediction about things getting tighter after presidential elections is coming true. The events below took place just before the elections held 2 March. But afterwards, head of Saint-Petersburg branch of Yabloko party Maxim Reznik was arrested at an opposition rally and is now being accused of obstructing the justice and faces months of imprisonment. In Moscow at the same time two well-known figures Lev Ponomarev (human rights activist) and Nikita Belykh (liberal party’s leader) were arrested as well.
It really appears that the authorities’ reaction becomes more hysterical even though there is no big and viable opposition. Moreover, the authorities appear to be more keen on crushing the opposition with force after presidential elections, than before. For instance, before they would normally abstain from arresting people like Ponomarev and Belykh, they would also normally avoid keeping people like Reznik in detention for too long time.
Why there is no thaw after Medvedev’s win in the elections, but rather signs of reinforced crackdown on political dissent? I think, it is because these people in the government have accomplished a coup d’etat (Medvedev serving as president-disguise for real ruler Putin) and therefore they cannot stand even whisper of discontent. It is true that no one is going to seriously challenge their authority either in Russia or abroad, but they themselves in the corner of their heart still understand they broke the law and deceived the people. This understanding is going to bring about more oppression on those who saw through their trick.
Two Protesters Arrested for Carrying a New Iron Curtain
By Galina Stolyarova
Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times
Police arresting one of two young Yabloko opposition party activists as he carries an iron sheet marked “The Iron Curtain Returns” in St. Petersburg on Thursday.
Several dozen police on Thursday afternoon violently manhandled two liberal activists carrying a large sheet of rusty metal with the words “The Iron Curtain Returns” painted on it near the headquarters of the democratic party Yabloko.
Grigory Pashukevich and Alexander Gudimov, both members of Yabloko’s youth wing, were detained before they had managed to walk fifty meters with the ironic iron banner as they left the party office at 46 Ulitsa Mayakovskogo……..
……..The police refused to explain what laws the activists had violated but said carrying the metal sheet was “an unsanctioned outdoor action that must be immediately stopped.”
“It feels as if Russia has been taken back three decades in a time machine, so surreal our life has become,” Gudimov said before he set off on the walk. “The country is corrupt and ruled by double standards. The rich kids of the Russian elite are studying in the U.K. but with the St. Petersburg office of the British Council being forced to shut down, ordinary locals can no longer get the help of this organization; the European University, one of the most respected private universities, was closed.”