A Russian human rights group says the country’s leaders are using tactics against the opposition that are reminiscent of those used under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin during the 1920s and 30s.
In a statement Tuesday, rights group Memorial condemned a growing crackdown on opponents of President Vladimir Putin that has seen a growing protest movement and two members of an anti-Kremlin all-female punk band, Pussy Riot, sent to prison camps. Several opposition leaders have also been arrested and accused of plotting “mass riots.”
The rights group said the events of recent weeks show that Russian authorities intend to rely on the “language of repression” in dialogue with the opposition, including arrests, courts and camps. It said that again, as in the 1920s and 30s, methods of “fabricating” political processes are in demand.
The Kremlin has consistently maintained that it is operating within the law and is merely taking action against violent, unsanctioned protests in an attempt to strengthen security and keep the public safe.
Memorial’s statement comes as Russia marks the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression. The annual remembrance day has been honored every October 30 since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. It commemorates the anniversary of Stalin’s so-called “Great Purge” of 1937, when millions of people were declared “enemies of the state” and sent to labor camps or executed without trial.
Events are being held across Russia Tuesday and in other former Soviet states.
Political analyst Sergei Karaganov, attending a remembrance service in Moscow, says he does not believe the situation in Russia will ever return to the extremes of the past.
"It is bad, there are, and mostly likely will be, persecutions as the country is in a difficult transitional state. But, in my view, a return to the past is impossible. This is against people's genetic structure - the elimination of 30 million people (in the Soviet period),” Karaganov said.