« The Green Follies |
Blog Home Page
| The UN's climate circus in Bali »
November 25, 2007
Kasparov arrested at anti-Putin Demonstration
Opposition leader and former chess champion Gary Kasparov was arrested and sentenced to 5 days in jail for trying to lead a march protesting the way the upcoming parliamentary elections in Russia are apparently skewed toward President Vladmir Putin's party:
In a statement, Mr. Kasparov said the court proceedings had been “a choreographed farce from beginning to end.” He added, “It was a symbol of what has happened to justice and the rule of law under Putin.” The elections, scheduled for December 2, have been all but rigged by Putin. Little or no coverate has been given other parties on the government owned networks and roadblocks to qualifying for the ballot have also been put in place by Putin.
Mr. Kasparov is one of the best-known foes of Mr. Putin, but the Kremlin has isolated him by preventing him from receiving coverage on television networks. Mr. Kasparov has in turn relied on demonstrations to draw attention to his criticisms of Mr. Putin.
He was arrested at a march in April, though he received only a fine, not jail time. More than 1,000 people showed up on Saturday to hear Mr. Kasparov and other coalition leaders speak at the rally, and a few hundred then tried to march to the offices of the Central Election Commission, which is overseeing the parliamentary elections.
Special police officers in riot gear swarmed around the marchers and kept them from continuing. The police arrested some people in addition to Mr. Kasparov and other coalition leaders.
The police were widely criticized for violently suppressing protests by the coalition earlier this year, but appeared to be exercising more restraint on Saturday.
It's clear that next year when Putin steps down from the presidency - probably replacing himself with one of this cronies - he will run for parliament and once again become head of government, this time as prime minister.
The Russian people themselves aren't very interested in Putin's machinations. He is a very popular politician who most Russians see as bringing the country back from the economic brink while establishing a strong international presence.
For the moment, Putin is riding high. It will be interesting to see what happens when either the Russian people tire of him or he wears out his welcome by going too far with this authoritarian schemes.