News / Europe

Putin: Order, Discipline Not a Sign of Stalinism

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live broadcast nationwide phone-in in Moscow, Apr. 25, 2013.
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live broadcast nationwide phone-in in Moscow, Apr. 25, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— President Vladimir Putin rejected comparisons with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on Thursday in his annual televised question-and-answer session with citizens, denying political persecution but saying Russia needed order and discipline.
    
A liberal journalist referred to a host of legal sanctions applied to Putin's opponents since he was re-elected president to ask him whether there were elements of Stalinism in his exercise of power.
    
But on a day when the first Russian civic group was fined under a new law intended to limit foreign influence, an opposition activist was jailed over an anti-government protest and another was being tried for fraud, Putin dismissed the idea.
    
“I don't see any elements of Stalinism here,” he said. “Stalinism is linked to the cult of personality, massive legal violations, repressions and labor camps. There is nothing like that in Russia and I hope there never will be again. But this does not mean that we should not have order and discipline.”

Putin, a former KGB officer who has mixed praise of some of Stalin's achievements with criticism of his harsh methods, denied using the courts to persecute opponents - a hallmark of Stalin's three decades in power until his death in 1953.
    
“Nobody is putting anyone behind bars for their political views,” Putin said.
    
Fraud charges
    
Russian opposition leader and anti-graft blogger Alexei Navalny speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Moscow, Apr. 15, 2013.Russian opposition leader and anti-graft blogger Alexei Navalny speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Moscow, Apr. 15, 2013.
x
Russian opposition leader and anti-graft blogger Alexei Navalny speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Moscow, Apr. 15, 2013.
Russian opposition leader and anti-graft blogger Alexei Navalny speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Moscow, Apr. 15, 2013.
Protest leader and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, arguably Putin's most formidable political opponent in the absence of any effective parliamentary opposition, says his trial on charges of defrauding a timber firm has been trumped up to silence him.
    
Avoiding using Navalny's name, but clearly referring to him, Putin said: “People who fight corruption must be pure as crystal themselves, otherwise it [their campaigning] all looks like self-promotion and political advertising.”
    
Navalny's supporters have compared his trial to that of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was jailed in 2005 on fraud and tax evasion charges after falling out with Putin and remains in prison.
    
Putin's remarks in a confident live appearance that lasted nearly five hours indicated he has no plans to ease the pressure on opponents and activists that has helped stifle what were the biggest opposition protests since he came to power in 2000.
    
The human rights campaign groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch this week said Putin's new term had seen a witch-hunt against dissenters and the toughest crackdown on civil society since the Soviet era.
    
Protesters on trial
   
Detained opposition activist Konstantin Lebedev (R, front) is escorted out of a building of the Russian Investigative Committee in Moscow, Oct. 17, 2012.Detained opposition activist Konstantin Lebedev (R, front) is escorted out of a building of the Russian Investigative Committee in Moscow, Oct. 17, 2012.
x
Detained opposition activist Konstantin Lebedev (R, front) is escorted out of a building of the Russian Investigative Committee in Moscow, Oct. 17, 2012.
Detained opposition activist Konstantin Lebedev (R, front) is escorted out of a building of the Russian Investigative Committee in Moscow, Oct. 17, 2012.
A Moscow court on Thursday convicted opposition activist Konstantin Lebedev of organizing mass disorder at a protest on May 6 last year, the eve of Putin's inauguration, and sentenced him to two-and-a-half years in prison.
    
He was given lenient treatment because he implicated others, which lawyers fear could bode ill for prominent opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov and more than 20 others who have also been formally accused or charged in connection with the May 6 protest. One other person has been convicted.
    
Also on Thursday, a Moscow court handed a 300,000 rouble ($9,500) fine to Golos, a vote-monitoring group that documented fraud allegations in the presidential election and a 2011 parliamentary election, for declining to register as a “foreign agent” under a new law aimed at NGOs with foreign funding.
    
For many Russians, that designation clearly evokes the Stalin era. Golos said the foreign payment in question had been a human rights prize, which it had promptly returned in full.
    
Putin dismissed criticism of the law, saying: “Let them say where they got money, how much, and how they have spent it.”
    
He also referred disparagingly to Pussy Riot, the female band, some of whose members were jailed for singing a raucous anti-Putin song near the altar of Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral.
    
“These girls from Pussy Riot and guys who desecrate the graves of our soldiers must be equal before the law,” he said.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid