The Washington Post has published an opinion piece from another imprisoned Russian democrat opposed to the Putin regime and Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Last month, as I reported, it ran a piece from the imprisoned oppositionist Alexei Navalny.
On Oct.18 the Washington Post presented the thoughts of Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition politician who has been imprisoned in Moscow since April 2022 for speaking out against Russia’s war on Ukraine. He has been designated by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience.
Kara-Murza notes that his case “marks the first moment in post-Soviet Russia when public criticism of the authorities is officially clarified as ‘treason.’”
He elaborates that “three counts in the indictment are my address to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly about the illegitimacy of Putin’s term-limit waiver; my speech at the Norwegian Helsinki Committee award ceremony for Russian historian and political prisoner Yuri Dmitriev discussing repression in Putin’s Russia; and my testimony before the U.S. Congress’s Helsinki Commission on the pervasive media censorship imposed by Putin to hide the war crimes his forces are committing in Ukraine.”
The political prisoner points out that “One would be hard-pressed to find precedents even in post-Stalin Soviet times when the authorities indicted dissidents as “traitors.” Among the best-known opponents of the Communist regime, such charges were leveled only against Nobel Prize-winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn before his expulsion to West Germany in February 1974, and against Anatoly (now Natan) Sharansky, a leader of the Jewish refusenik movement and co-founder of the Moscow Helsinki Group, in 1977.”
Under the Russian Criminal Code, each count of treason carries up to 20 years of imprisonment — this in addition to 14 years on my two previous charges. Levelled against the oppositionist.
Kara-Murza writes: “I won’t lie: It’s not a pleasant feeling to see such apocalyptic numbers in the indictment with my name at the top of the page,” and being accused of betraying his country.
But what “really helps” him is both “the knowledge that I am right and they are wrong,” and his background as a historian.
“Why? Because all of this has happened before, and we know how it will end. Aggressive wars launched by Russian and Soviet rulers for domestic political purposes — from the Crimean War of the mid-19th century to the misnamed “small victorious” Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 to the invasion of Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s — ended up backfiring badly on their masterminds, who managed to turn both their own people and the world against them. This war will be no different — and it is remarkable how diligently Putin is stepping into the same traps that caught his predecessors,” the historian believes.
“The great Russian historian Vasily Klyuchevsky once said that “history doesn’t teach anyone anything — it only punishes for lessons not learnt.” It won’t be long before Putin finds out just how true these words really are,” Kara-Murza concludes.
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