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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs