Thursday, April 6, 2017

Duma’s ‘Absurd New Laws’ Don’t Fight Terrorism but Do Raise Questions, Krasheninnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 6 – The flood of “absurd new laws” the Russian Duma is proposing and adopting won’t do anything to help in the fight against terrorism, Yekaterinburg analyst Fyodor Krasheninnikov says. They don’t work, but they have having an impact, prompting Russians to ask why such laws are being adopted and for whose benefit.

            New laws restricting demonstrations and the meeting of deputies with the voters will do nothing to fight terrorism, he argues. Those behind them want to make things difficult for protesters but the protesters have already become accustomed to such unconstitutional acts (

            But more than that, both supporters and opponents of such measures recognize that they are ineffective both because there are many ways around them and because, if the protests are large enough, as they were on March 26, the authorities “one way or another” will act as if everything is in order rather than enforcing these laws.

            This situation is intolerable and should prompt the legislators to cancel such laws because they “don’t work.”  And proposals like requiring protesters to pass through metal detectors, however, could only “come into the heads of theose who consider our fellow citizens wild vandals or for whom any political protest is only an occasion to break glass and set fire to cars.”
            “It is possible that the authors of such laws” have managed to convince themselves that this is the case, Krasheninnikov says; “but in the recent history of Russia there are no examples of real disorders.” However, “still more silly are laws and rules” which the authorities themselves honor only in the breach.
            The authorities are prepared to approve quickly almost any meeting that they think is “not political” but that raises several questions: “If some opposition figure applies for a permit to declare ‘Let the sun always shine!’ and then changes his theme to ‘Enough of Putin!’ should the authorities intervene?”
            But the questions about these laws and rules are multiplying, the Yekaterinburg analyst continues. “Why is an action of solidarity with the victims of terror not political, but an action against corruption is?  If terror and the struggle with it and its consequences are not politics, then what can politics then be about?”
            “The existing legislation about meetings doesn’t work and cannot work,” Kresheninnikov says.  “People must have not a theoretic but a realizable in practice right to assemble peacefully for any mass public actions on any day and at any place as soon as such an idea comes into their heads.”
            Note well, he continues, “that in the speeches of the leaders of the state, the existence of political goals and intentions among their opponents in general is treated as something negative. ‘These people have definitely specific political goals,’ Medvedev said in unmasking Navalny. And one wants to ask him: is this not in fact normal?”
            Anyone who wants to take part in presidential elections has political goals! “How could it be otherwise?”  But Russia’s leaders assume that nothing happens spontaneously but rather is orchestrated by forces behind the scenes, and they have managed to teach the systemic opposition “not to have any political goals at all.”
            But according to Krasheninnikov, “conditions are changing” as people see the authorities violating their own rules as well as the rights of the people; and that in turn is simultaneously “discrediting and shaking what is, even before this, the rickety and absurd construction that is Russian legislation.”

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