Civil Society Is the Kremlin's Worst Nightmare
The Moscow Times
By David Kramer and Lilia Shevtsova
When President Vladimir Putin spoke to a gathering of Russian ambassadors two weeks ago, he lamented over Russia's global reputation: "Russia's image abroad is formed not by us and as a result it is often distorted and does not reflect the real situation in our country."
Russia's image is distorted, but not in the way Putin suggested. The image fails to accurately capture the crackdown being conducted by the Kremlin, marking a turn toward rule by force. During June and July, the Kremlin moved from soft authoritarianism to a much harsher form by rejecting key constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms of speech and access to information, assembly and association. In discarding these fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms, the Kremlin essentially has launched an anti-constitutional coup.
At the same time, we need to acknowledge the emergence of the other Russia: the one presented by civil society and its drive for dignity and freedom. At the voting booth in recent parliamentary and presidential elections, as well as on the streets, Russians have made it clear that they have had enough of the corrupt, authoritarian regime.
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