Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Putin’

How to Punish Putin

March 23, 2014

MOSCOW — AS I write this, I am under house arrest. I was detained at a rally in support of anti-Putin protesters who were jailed last month.

In September, I ran for mayor of Moscow as a pro-reform, pro-democracy opposition candidate and received almost a third of the vote despite having no access to state media. Today, my blog, which was until recently visited by over two million readers per month, has been blocked as “extremist” after I called for friendly ties with Ukraine and compliance with international law.

For years, I have been telling journalists that President Vladimir V. Putin’s approval rating would soon peak and then tumble. Russia’s economy is stagnant, I said, and the Russian people would soon weary of the president’s empty promises. Even a rally-round-the-flag military adventure — a “little war,” as it’s known in Russia — would be impossible, I believed. Russia no longer had enemies.

Then, on Feb. 28, Russia sent troops to Ukraine in precisely such a “little war.” I admit that I underestimated Mr. Putin’s talent for finding enemies, as well as his dedication to ruling as “president for life,” with powers on par with the czars’.

As a citizen and patriot, I cannot support actions against Russia that would worsen conditions for our people. Still, I recommend two options that, if successfully implemented, I believe would be welcomed by most Russians.

First, although Mr. Putin’s invasion has already prompted the European Union to impose sanctions on 21 officials, and the United States on seven, most of these government figures cannot be considered influential. They do not have major assets outside Russia and are irrelevant to Mr. Putin; sanctioning them will not change Russia’s policy. After all the tough talk from Western politicians, this action is mocked in Russia and even seen as a tacit encouragement to Mr. Putin and his entourage, who seem to possess some magical immunity.

Instead, Western nations could deliver a serious blow to the luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by the Kremlin’s cronies who shuttle between Russia and the West. This means freezing the oligarchs’ financial assets and seizing their property.

Such sanctions should primarily target Mr. Putin’s inner circle, the Kremlin mafia who pillage the nation’s wealth, including Gennady N. Timchenko, head of the Volga Group; Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, influential businessmen and former judo sparring partners of Mr. Putin; Yuri V. Kovalchuk, a financier believed to be Mr. Putin’s banker; Vladimir I. Yakunin, president of Russian Railways; the oligarchs Roman A. Abramovich and Alisher B. Usmanov; and Igor I. Sechin and Aleksei B. Miller, the heads of Rosneft and Gazprom, respectively.

The sanctions must also hit the oligarchs whose media outlets parrot the regime lines, and target Mr. Putin’s entire “war cabinet”: the TV spin doctors, compliant Duma members and apparatchiks of Mr. Putin’s United Russia Party.

The invasion of Ukraine has polarized members of Russia’s elite, many of whom view it as reckless. Real sanctions, such as blocking access to their plush London apartments, will show that Mr. Putin’s folly comes with serious costs.

Second, Western authorities must investigate ill-gotten gains from Russia within their jurisdictions. The Anti-Corruption Foundation, which I established in 2011, has revealed dozens of major cases of graft. In 90 percent of those cases, Russian money was laundered in the West. Sadly, American, European Union and British law enforcement agencies have stymied our efforts to investigate such criminal plunder.

“Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people,” Mr. Putin claimed this week. But even among the most nationalist and pro-Soviet of our people, a longing to restore Crimea to Russian rule faded years ago.

Yet Mr. Putin has cynically raised nationalist fervor to a fever pitch; imperialist annexation is a strategic choice to bolster his regime’s survival. Mobilizing the masses by distracting them from real problems like corruption and economic stagnation can take place only beneath the banner of fighting external enemies.

What is truly alarming in Mr. Putin’s rash behavior is that he is motivated by the desire for revenge against the Ukrainian people for revolting against a Kremlin-friendly government. A rational actor would know that the precedent of holding a local referendum to determine sovereignty is risky for Russia — a federation of more than 80 disparate regions, including more than 160 ethnic groups and at least 100 languages.

It is true that the consensus in both Russia and Crimea is that the peninsula has historically been closer to Moscow than to Kiev. But the notion that this reunification should be achieved at the end of the barrel of a gun is supported only by Mr. Putin’s hard-core base. The opposition has spoken clearly. The antiwar protest held in Moscow over the weekend was the largest in two years, and it exceeded any counterdemonstration mustered by pro-Kremlin movements.

There is a common delusion among the international community that although Mr. Putin is corrupt, his leadership is necessary because his regime subdues the dark, nationalist forces that otherwise would seize power in Russia. The West should admit that it, too, has underestimated Mr. Putin’s malign intent. It is time to end the dangerous delusion that enables him.

— Alexey A Navalny

Alexey A Navalny is a Russian lawyer, anti-corruption activist and opposition politician. He is currently under house arrest, his popular blog shut down.

Originally published by the New York Times.

Arrested for bearing gifts

October 7, 2012
free pussy riot gifts arrested

free pussy riot gifts arrested

Свинтили за то, что она показывала журналистам подарки, которые она собиралась подарить Светозарному.

Arrested for showing reporters gifts destined for Vladimir Putin.

Sinead O’Connor letter to Vladimir Putin release Pussy Riot

September 19, 2012

After the feminist punks of Pussy Riot were arrested and sentenced in a show trial last month to two years in prison for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, many high-profile musicians have spoken out on their behalf, from Paul McCartney to Madonna and Björk.

On Friday Yoko Ono will give Pussy Riot the Lennon Ono Peace Grant.

Now, Sinead O’Connor is asking for the band’s release. In this open letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin, she asks him to reduce Pussy Riot’s sentence to house arrest for the benefit of the musicians’ children. A copy of this letter will also be hand-delivered by a representative of CBGB to the Kremlin on 24 September 2012.


Dear Mr. Putin,

My name is Sinead O’Connor. I am an Irish singer of little significance other than having a huge heart full of love for all manner of people and being somewhat braver than small females are usually . . . which, of course, may be considered crazy in some quarters! An ‘irregular’ is what I might be called in old military terms. But I am also a singer who is, when at my best, capable of soothing incendiary situations with my singing voice. And sometimes in writing.

This comes from my genuine unconditional and non-judgmental love of all people, especially strangers . . . of which to me of course, you are one. So I am going to approach you with the same loving intent and normal speak as I would any stranger. I’m sure you’re probably sick of being spoken to in ‘presidential speak’ and would appreciate being treated like a normal human being. I know I do. By the way, I did not attend school much and I did not learn punctuation, so please forgive me and furthermore, take it as a compliment I’m trusting you enough to be myself and not insult you with rubbish.

I am someone who had direct experience, as you may have yourself, of what I choose to call The Holy Spirit. And I don’t just believe but I KNOW that all people, from kings to presidents to singers to anyone, are intrinsically good in their souls. Except those who knowingly hurt children.

Not those who hurt unintentionally. The scriptures tell us if we didn’t KNOW something was wrong, we are not guilty. But once we understand, it is sin to repeat the action or not correct it. Especially if we are what is considered ‘sane.’

I believe, though you may think it mad . . . but artists are, by necessity, ‘mad.’ Someone has to do everyone’s madness for them . . . Secretly, all people love each other. We just aren’t yet advanced enough to understand it. But we are growing toward it.

I’m sure you feel yourself, it is often strangers who are the safest people to trust and love. It is those close to us we have to watch!

It can’t be an easy job being president of any country. I feel sorry for presidents. Everyone thinks they have ultimate power but throughout history, you have all been very vulnerable people and need to be considered as much as the scriptures call ‘the motherless, the widowed, or the needy.’

Some people have asked I write a song on top of a ‘backing track’ of the female band currently in jail in Russia.

I find I’m someone who doesn’t like to get involved with politics. I tell my children truthfully: I am a singer because I am not intelligent on anything else. And politics confuses and bores me.

I deal with spirit and I am an ordained priest and I use music and my heart as my priesthood . . . not wishing to disrespect the beautiful sacraments. But some rules need to be disobeyed, because God needs help in this world. And suffering is caused in president and pauper because poor God is held hostage by rules which keep us and it lonely.

This doesn’t mean I’m always a good person. Often I am an awful jerk, to be honest. And I regret it. But I keep trying. Mostly I try to be very brave and to treat all people as equals.

The songs is aggressive, very critical of you, and as I don’t get involved in politics (even in my own country) and know nothing about you apart from your childhood, I do not want to hurt your heart by approaching you with anything but love.

Nor indeed do I want to be used by any government or organization to push some anti-Russian agenda, no more than I would an anti-American agenda or any other country I love, as I love Russia and America and I beg you won’t prevent me from playing in Russia because I am making this plea, as I would cry if I could not play there and that’s the truth. And I believe as a healer artist, I have a lot to offer some Russian people.

Russia is a place so soft in my heart I would be bereft not to be able to go there.

So instead of recording the song I thought of writing a gentler one, but there’s too much to say and make it rhyme in 3 minutes. So I’m writing this open letter to you, from a mother, to a mother’s son and a father.

Your mother suffered the loss of two children. That must still be a great grief in your family’s and your own heart. Sometimes for men, the only way to live with loss and grief is to bury it. And when something brings it up we can run in all manner of ways.

The more sensitive we are, the more hardened we make our hearts. One can’t be a poppy in a tsunami. One must become a football.

Baby darling, please forgive me addressing you in such fashion, but I see all people as sons and daughters of mothers . . . and in my middle age, I feel like I want to mother people. So I address affectionately where my human weakness doesn’t mess it up.

Two small children . . . Gara and Philya . . . are now carrying the loss of their mother. Which is equal to the agony your parents suffered over the loss of their children, if you think about it.

Thank God she had you. And thank God your own beautiful children have you.

When we were all young, we did things out of anger. The shock in ones early 20s etc, when one discovers not everyone on the news has been telling the truth. The realization the world isn’t always a loving place can be upsetting and as youngsters, we can’t help being angry and impulsive and try to throw off all manner of authority just to establish our own identity.

Particularly young women need to do this, Sir. (You may know if you have daughters!) We need to establish a sense of safety in this world. And as St. Augustine said, “Anger is the first step toward courage.”

When I was young, and you may have been the same, oh my God, I had a temper. At school (or church for that matter) they never taught us how to communicate strong feelings healthily and one could only copy the example of elders and leaders . . . where largely war was the answer to everything! Not love. No one ever said love. Not even the spiritual leaders.

These children who have lost their mothers, Sir, they don’t care about politics, or the band above mentioned, Sir, or hurting anyone. They love their mummies. And you need them to grow up loving their country. And they are going to suffer intolerable agony for the rest of their lives if they can’t have their mummies back as soon as possible.

One poor child only saw her mama for the first time in six months yesterday.

Oh Sir, can you imagine as a young father, how awful it would have been for you and your child if a brash impulsive young action on your part, not well thought out and not meant to frighten anyone, resulted in your poor child losing you?

While the appeal and the issues concerned are being considered etc., Sir, please could you find it in your heart to allow the mothers of the band be allowed home on house arrest immediately so the poor innocent little children needn’t suffer, Sir, and carry loss such as your mothers or yours which may ruin their innocent lives.

Maybe there’s a way out of this for us to learn there’s ways artists and politicians and religions could better learn to communicate and work together for the spiritual and political and general wellbeing of the people of the earth.

All are valid, Sir, from the highest king to the lowest crying child for his or her mother.

The girls ought not have frightened anyone. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened. But I have said clearly, I think it was stupid terrifying people with balaclavas, however rainbow colored, when there have been so many frightening shootings, etc., and its terrible to scare old people or the vulnerable mentioned in scriptures.

I’m sure the girls are very sorry they hadn’t thought of that in their youthful impulsiveness and genuine desire to be heard. Artists maybe need to be heard.

A wise man like you must surely see Russian art has always been your greatest export. I really believe young people don’t scream unless they’re not being heard any other way.

And we all bashed people up when we were young.

Verbally in the case of women.. and in your own case when you were young, you used to beat a few people up or frighten people yourself, and you probably don’t feel too great about it or wouldn’t want your grandchildren doing it. But we’re all only human. And we do messed up stuff when we’re hurt, or lonely, or we need to be heard, or feel unvalued.

Anyway, Sir . . . please let these mothers home to their children even on house arrest while sorting the case.

It’s the children who matter most. And you were a child once yourself.

I’d be happy to sing this to you, Sir, and I’d cry. And I think you would too, Sir, because I know you have a heart, and your mother suffered the loss of two children.

Can you imagine your children’s suffering had they lost their mother so young and early in their development?

A strong leader is a benign dictator who is brave enough even to be killed for being spiritually right, knowing the true king of Earth is God. And bidden or unbidden, He is present.

Show the world what a real man is, as you can. No president has ever been brave enough to say the word “love” or “forgive.” You never hear any politician say “love.” Nor even the priests half the time.

Please say it, Sir. Even just to yourself. Say “forgive.” And let these children have their mums at home on house arrest immediately while the other legal issues are pending.

Don’t let these children suffer what your mother suffered. Loss is loss. Loss of a mother can never be gotten back.

I know you have a heart.


Pussy Riot members vow to continue protest

September 17, 2012
Free Pussy Riot on Russian Consulate in Manhattan

Free Pussy Riot on Russian Consulate in Manhattan

I want to remind you that the two of them (the jailed band members) have children. Yes, they spoke out against (Russian President Vladimir) Putin … but their goal was to engage civil society. — Mikhail Gorbachev

The weekend saw more mass protests against Vladimir Putin, though not as large as previous protests.

The demand is Free Pussy riot, Free Russia!

Little could Vladimir Putin have realised the outcry that would erupt with the jailing for two years of members of Pussy Riot in what was little more than a show trial. He cannot appear on the international stage without the first questions being put to him being about Pussy Riot.

Within Russia, both Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and former Soviet leader and Nobel prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev have spoken out against the sentence.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday he thought the women should be released and given suspended sentences, saying further jail time would be “unproductive.”

Former Soviet leader and Nobel prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev on Monday criticized the sentences given to the punk rock band Pussy Riot, calling the two-year imprisonment terms handed down to the performers “disproportionate”.

Across the world protests continue, musicians continue to speak out, using the stage as a platform. 1 October 2012 has been declared the Second Pussy Riot Global Day of Action.

Watch out for Pussy Riot balaclavas in prominent places in Milan.

What Putin overlooked is the internet.

Members of Pussy Riot have vowed to continue to protest.

Russia goes through periods of liberalisation, followed by crackdowns. It is currently entering a darker period.

Even the cranes don’t want to follow Vladimir Putin

September 6, 2012
Siberian white cranes

Siberian white cranes

Dressed in white, hanging from a powered hang glider, Vladimir Putin led a group of cranes bred in captivity on their migration route.

Well at least that was the intention.

Only one crane followed.

The Siberian white crane is close to extinction.

Free Pussy Riot!

August 20, 2012
Pussy Riot v Vladimir Putin

Pussy Riot v Vladimir Putin

Free Pussy Riot supporter in Barcelona

Free Pussy Riot supporter in Barcelona

A man dies from a tumour, so how can a country survive with growths like labour camps and exiles? — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The outrage across the world has been nothing short of phenomenal!

On Friday, three members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot were sentenced in a Stalin-era show trial to two years in prison for staging a peaceful protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin inside an Orthodox church. A judge rejected the argument their act was a form of political protest, instead ruling it was motivated by religious hatred. As the verdict came down Friday, solidarity protests took place in more than 60 cities around the world marking Global Pussy Riot Day.

The Pussy Riot case was seen as a key test of how far Putin would go to crackdown on dissidents during his third stint as president.

What message does it send to the world when the three young women are held in chains, in a cage with bars, then a glass cage, in court for 12 hours a day, not allowed breaks to go to the toilet or to eat, back to prison for five hours, but not to sleep as the only time to prepare their case.

Two years in a penal colony, a slave labour camp, for singing a protest song.

Imprisoned and persecuted writers have PEN, we now need something similar for musicians.

Has nothing changed in Russia since Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote Cancer Ward and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich?

Is the Kremlin so corrupt and rotten that Pussy Riot brings it crumbling to the ground?

Russia has a collapsing economy. It needed oil at $40 a barrel, it now needs oil at $150 a barrel. Investors will avoid Russia like the plague.

Reagan bankrupted the Soviet Union by forcing an arms race it could not afford and dragging into a war in Afghanistan it could not sustain. Vladimir Putin is now bankrupting Russia by making promises he cannot honour and presiding of a kleptocracy that is robbing the country.

Vladimir Putin is turning Russia into a pariah state. He has backed Assad in the slaughter of the Syrian people, now he is persecuting Pussy Riot for singing a protest song.

Please sign the global petitions in support of Pussy Riot:

We are all Pussy Riot. You cannot kill an idea.

We are one Clit! Free Pussy Riot!

August 18, 2012
Pussy Riot in court

Pussy Riot in court

Too long cunts have been kept quiet

The world unites to say it

Come lets free our Pussy Riot

Chainsaw the crucifixes

Remember what they did to witches

Boys branding us as bitches

Keep us kettled in kitchens

Feed us fraudulent fictions

I weep when my sisters are whipped

We feel the force, we’ve flipped

We know every lady is legit

Lets start a Pussy Riot

Cause they fear our pussy power

Now cometh the hour

When we won’t wear their powder

But don balaclava cover

Cause we are one clit

Lets start a Pussy Riot

They can’t cut off our speakers

Cause we have no leaders

We’re all worthy, we’re all one

We put a megaphone in your gun

We want liberation from Putin

And every version of him

We’ve got our flag, we’ll fly it

Until we free our Pussy Riot

— Catherine Brogan

Posted by Catherine Brogan on her blog.

Pussy Riot show trial

August 17, 2012
Pussy Riot show trial punk rock is not a crime

Pussy Riot show trial punk rock is not a crime

We are grateful to those who pray for us. — Pussy Riot’s lead singer, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison for singing an anti-Putin song in a Cathedral. In the verdict it is said that the defendants “suffered from mixed personality disorder displayed by their active position in life”.

Foolish maybe, deserving a slap on the wrist, but nothing more, certainly not a Stalin-era show trial and two years in prison.

This is a dark day for Russia, bad for democracy, bad for human rights, bad for freedom of speech, bad for religious tolerance.

Vladimir Putin should be a big enough man to be able to handle a little criticism.

Fundamentalists and bigots in the Russian Orthodox church need to drag themselves out of the Dark Ages and recognise the time of witch hunts, inquisition, branding as heretics and burning at the stake are long gone.

Maybe Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church should read their Dostoevsky.

For a theological viewpoint, Giles Fraser, former Canon-Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Punk rock is not a crime. It may be appallingly bad music, but it is not a crime attracting two years in prison.

Lawyers acting for Pussy Riot intend to appeal, and will if necessary take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

A number of protesters had been arrested outside the court before the sentencing was announced, including ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov and opposition politician Sergei Udaltsov.

In his first one hundred days in office, Vladimir Putin has managed to turn Russia into a pariah state. First by backing Assad and his slaughter of Syrian people. Second with a Stalin-era show trial of Pussy Riot and two years in prison.

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