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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs