Russian anti-corruption crusader and opposition politician Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 20 days in the slammer for “repeated appeals to take part in unauthorized rallies.
That “repeated appeals” business sounds like a particularly pernicious crime.
What is the difference between messing with Navalny this way constantly and beating Catalonians over the head?
I don’t see any.
Or, actually, I do.
At the end of the day, after the Madrid government’s fine performance in Catalonia yesterday, with the whole world watching, the Catalonians might get what a lot of them seem to want: independence.
But they will get it, if they do, because millions of them have united and fought for it.
Alexei Navalny, on the other hand, has to pretend to be “two million Catalonians” all on his lonesome.
“Russia will be free” someday, but at the moment only Navalny and a handful of his countrymen want to act in a concerted, deliberate way to end the Putinist tyranny.
Everyone else is—to tell you the truth, I don’t know what they are doing.
What they definitely are not doing (at least, so far) is acting even remotely like “two million Catalonians.”
So, my reaction to the savage behavior of the Spanish police yesterday would definitely not be to gloat and suggest the police in so-called democratic countries are worse.
Actually, the police in Russia are much worse.
When push comes to shove, they wouldn’t hesitate to outdo their Spanish colleagues. And in any case there is a whole army of police, investigators, and prosecutors in Russia who could only be termed “political” police, because they spend all or most of their working days pursuing, interrogating, framing, trying, and imprisoning various “extremists.”
Tell me this hasn’t had a totally chilling effect on grassroots politics in Russia. It has. Why else would I, more or less a nobody, personally know so many Russians who have fled the country in fear of arrest and persecution or because they had simply been prevented by government agencies like the Justice Ministry, Center “E”, the FSB, and the Investigative Committee from doing the social justice work or political activism they had been doing in their own homeland for years?
But Russians are people like everybody else, and people sometimes are way too inclined to let their country’s powers that be off the hook, when they should be fighting them in the streets like “two million Catalonians.” TRR
Thanks to Erik Syring for the heads-up. Photo courtesy of Life on the Left