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.
    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 Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora