Published in the Delaware County Daily Times
Delaware County’s Daily Newspaper Friday, March 13, 2020
By Joseph Batory, Times Columnist
The history of Russia has been dominated by totalitarian leaders who have created ongoing episodes of massive oppression of human rights. The Soviet era (1922-1991) was among the worst, with dictators Lenin and later Stalin perpetrating crime after crime against the people. Finally, when the Soviet Union crashed in the early 1990’s, there was hope for a new birth of freedom and liberty in Russia.
But then came Vladimir Putin, the former Soviet KGB (secret police) officer as the new leader of Russia. Not surprisingly given his background, Putin has been involved in a wide variety of human rights violations in Russia and beyond.
Alexander Motyl, a political science professor at Rutgers University has summarized Putin as a “war criminal,” noting that following the bombing of two apartment buildings in Moscow by unverified attackers in 1999, Putin waved “the Russian flag of supposed patriotism” and blamed Chechnya (the evidence points more closely to this act being done by Russia’s own State Security forces, known as the FSB). Putin then launched a massive Russian air and land campaign that reduced much of the Chechen capital (Grozny) to rubble. The death toll was at least 25,000 civilians and many more thousands of Chechen citizens lost their homes and possessions and became refugees.
Then in 2004 when Chechen terrorists locked up hundreds of schoolchildren and their teachers as hostages in a school, Russian authorities refused to negotiate and used military forces to storm the school. More than 330 people died and another 550 were wounded. Among the dead were 184 children.
Motyl also cites Putin as the prime supporter of the Russian and pro-Russian terrorists in eastern Ukraine with more than 10,000 having been killed there.
In addition, Putin is the prime suspect in Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 being shot down on July 17, 2014, killing 298 innocent people aboard. And Russia’s ruthless recent bombing of Syria’s civilian population has been condemned as criminal by various Western leaders and human rights organizations.
Putin has also partnered with Turkey’s leader (Erdogan) in the murderous campaign against the pro-western Kurds in NE Syria. And Russian mercenaries are involved in the war in Libya, backing insurgents against the UN endorsed government in Tripoli.
In the tradition of a secret police liar, Putin has recently attempted to fabricate new history and incredibly has publicly accused Poland of starting WW II. Putin has ignored the facts that the Nazis attacked Poland on September 1, 1939 from the west and the Soviets invaded Poland from the east on September 17, 1939. No revisionist garbage from Putin can change the reality that these two evil empires (The Nazis and the Soviets in partnership) savaged Poland and six million Poles were killed in WW II (By percentage, the highest number of deaths of any nation in that war).
Aside from Putin’s lies and international meddling, according to Human Rights Watch, Russia today is more repressive that it has ever been in the post- Soviet era. And violence is common! Just since 1993, 58 journalists in Russia have been killed and 33 of these criminal actions were never pursued by law enforcement.
The picture of widespread human rights abuses inside Russia today includes:
And now, the very foundations of the USA are also under attack by Putin who clearly directed serious Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election. Who says so? The Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency in a declassified report which concluded that Putin and the Russian government targeted the 2016 presidential election, paying social media “trolls” in efforts by Russian government agencies and state-funded media to sway public opinion.
These propagandistic Russian generated election ads were designed to create hostility between Americans with certain messages designed to encourage extremist/hate groups. The bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has now affirmed that the CIA, FBI and NSA findings about Russian meddling “were fairly and professionally done” and that there were in fact Russian attempts to sow discord, undermine democratic institutions, and interfere in U.S. elections.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has sounded this serious alarm: “Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election. Russia’s goal is broader: to sow societal discord and erode public confidence in the machinery of government. By flooding social media with false reports, conspiracy theories, and trolls, and by exploiting existing divisions, Russia is trying to breed distrust of our democratic institutions and among our fellow Americans.”
In summary, Putin is just one more despicable Russian totalitarian despot, an ongoing violator of human rights and without credibility …and certainly he is no friend of the USA. Putin is a tyrant who is unworthy of respect/admiration from anyone.
Joseph Batory is the author of three books and writes about education, history and politics.