Monday, December 13, 2010

RUSSIA - Really a Single-Party Nation

"In Siberia Race, Ruling Party Uses Clenched Fist" by CLIFFORD J. LEVY, New York Times 12/10/2010


On the eve of regional elections, an opposition candidate named Olga V. Safronova arrived at a school for a campaign finale. She planned a rousing speech with a refrain that Russia had been seized by a dictatorial ruling party.

But operatives from that very party showed up to stop her.

What displeased them was this: Ms. Safronova’s political party was supposed to be a fake opposition, created by the Kremlin to give the illusion that Russia was a thriving democracy. Now, though, this puppet party was rebelling here in Siberia — battling for votes, defying the governing party and even assailing Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin himself.

The governing party — in coordination with the authorities themselves — soon responded. And their efforts to suppress Ms. Safronova’s party, A Just Russia, seemed to underscore how laws intended to guarantee free and fair elections carry little weight in Russia.

The governing party operatives tried to bar Ms. Safronova from the school. They called the police to interrogate her. They warned teachers and others that they would be fired if they attended, and most left. Ms. Safronova ignored the threats and began speaking in an auditorium that was nearly deserted. Even so, the operatives sought to shout her down.

No comments: