Two stunning new laws have recently emerged from the Russian parliament.
The first makes it a crime for anyone to offend the feelings of a religious believer. It’s perfectly clear that this law will only be be applied to protect the “feelings” of believers in the Russian Orthodox Church, certainly not those of, for instance, followers of Jehovah’s Witness or Islam.
The second makes it crime for anyone to let anyone else know he/she is homosexual. Germany has already officially condemned this barbaric leap backwards for Russia, one that only makes the nation more and more of an isolated international pariah.
Combined with Russia’s existing law making “extremism” illegal, this trio of laws has Russia marching in goose-step rapidly into its dark neo-Soviet past. As Russia has shown with the Khodorkovsky and Navalny prosecutions, it’s easy enough to simply accuse a political enemy of financial misconduct and send him to jail for a decade or more. But what if a certain political enemy doesn’t have significant financial dealings? Then you need other measures, and the terrible trio of laws fills this bill nicely. It can easily be used to chuck anyone into a concentration camp at any time.
As the civilized world moves in the direction of permitting homosexuals to marry, Russia moves in the opposite direction. As the world becomes more multicultural and diverse, Russia seeks only homogeneity. We have even begun to see Russia exile its dissidents just as happened during the dark days of the USSR, when the likes of Solzhenitsyn and Russia’s best and brightest were forced to flee or be jailed or killed. In recent days two major figures on the Russian political scene, Sergei Guriev and Garry Kasparov, have announced they’ve left Russia for good. The trial of Alexei Navalny in Kirov shows that their fears of arrest and persecution are hardly imaginary.
Truly, those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it. Russians have chosen to be ruled by a proud KGB spy, and it is utterly predictable that he would do all he can to return Russia to its Soviet “glory” days, even though those days led to national downfall, collapse and disgrace.
Putin’s main change from the days of the USSR has been ideological. Where the USSR persecuted religion, Putin has co-opted it. Where the ideology of the USSR was communism, Putin’s ideology is Russian orthodoxy. Apparently he feels this was the one error made by the Soviet overlords, that the USSR would not have met its end if it had taken a different stance on the church.