By Jim Kouri | Examiner.com
At the same time that the news media in Russia are denigrating the civil unrest occurring in the United States, their own government’s actions have triggered some of the worst civil unrest in the history of the Russian city of Moscow. As a result police are showing little tolerance for the thousands of protesters voicing their anger over President Vladimir Putin‘s use of his criminal justice system to silence his political opponents, according to media reports on Tuesday.
“Many of the Russian people believe this is a return to the type of criminal justice system that was prevalent during the days of the Soviet Union. In those days, the courts were used to try, convict and imprison or execute those who were vocally opposed to injustices,” said Mike Baker, a former attorney and political strategist. “I would advise Americans to keep an eye on this situation because there have been allegations that using the justice system in the U.S. to silence or smear political opponents is already a problem in our country,” he added.
The protest was initiated only a few hours after anti-corruption campaigner, Alexei Navalny, who acted as a watchdog of the Putin regime’s corruption and abuse, was convicted of what his supporters called bogus and unfounded charges. While not imprisoned he was given a suspended sentence of 3½ years, which allows the government to rescind the suspension and incarcerate Navalny.
Meanwhile, 38-year-old Navalny’s younger brother wasn’t as fortunate and was imprisoned, a situation that’s reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s MO (modus operandi) of punishing family members of the people he declared were enemies of the people’s revolution. Navalny is a lawyer and blogger who became well-known with his investigations of official corruption. He is considered Russia’s Tom Fitton, the president of the U.S. watchdog Judicial Watch.
He is credited with organizing a series of anti-Putin protests in Moscow in 2011 and 2012 that drew hundreds of thousands of Russians who opposed the president’s iron-fisted policies. He also was always certain to remind people that Vladimir Putin is a former KGB chief who possesses a reputation for being a narcissistic hardliner.
Navalny and his younger brother, Oleg, were convicted of defrauding a French cosmetics company and given the same sentence, but only Navalny’s was suspended. The court also fined each man 500,000 rubles (about $8,800) and ordered them to pay a total of about 4 million rubles ($77,000) in damages.
During Tuesday’s demonstration, thousands protesters were gathering just outside Red Square for about two hours under the watchful eye of Russian riot police. But eventually the officers took action and began to break up the rally saying it was unsanctioned. The protesters responded by yelling: “We are the power!” and “Russia without Putin!”
But when pro-Putin activists came to confront the protesters, they shouted back, “Those who don’t like Russia should go to the United States!” Some news organizations claim the Russian police detained about 100 protesters, while protest leaders claimed double that number were arrested. Russian law requires demonstrators to get official clearance for rallies. Violators can face prison sentences and heavy fines.