Vladimir Putin is afraid of peaceful demonstrators - as all authoritarians and dictators are
Vladimir Putin, the thug masquerading as president of Russia, has barely been back in the Kremlin for four weeks, but he is already flexing his muscles:
This week, the Russian parliament approved a controversial bill which will significantly restrict the right to demonstrate. Under the new law, individuals who take part in unauthorized protests could face maximum penalties of 300,000 rubles (€7,400 or $9,300) or 200 hours of community service, while organizations could face fines of up to 1 million rubles. The fines are a massive increase over the previous penalties.
German newspapers have - rightly - been rather scathing in their comments. Here are a couple of examples:
The center-left daily Der Tagesspiegel:
"Who will still have the courage to oppose Putin on the streets when threatened with financial ruin? The new law is an answer to the large-scale demonstrations that Russia has seen since the parliamentary election in 2011. It is also an expression of the state power's absolute helplessness, because ultimately it shows the fear Russia's leaders have of their own fellow citizens."
"Instead of reacting to the protest movement and ushering in more democracy, Putin is leading his country in the opposite direction. Nothing good can be expected to come from his next four years in office."
The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
"The restriction of the right to demonstrate by the Russian parliament represents the essence of Vladimir Putin's rule: the arbitary exercising of power, cloaked in a pretense of legality. While media loyal to the regime have praised, as a sign of liberalism, the fact that the maxium penalties in the original bill were significantly reduced during the law's passage through the parliamentary consulation process, a host of clauses were written into the law which de facto abolish the right to demonstrate."
"It was already the case in the past that the right to demonstrate existed more in theory than in practice, but even that was apparently too dangerous for Putin, after he was forced to witness, in the months before his re-election, just how quickly theory can turn into practice."
Regrettably, there seems to have been no reaction from the Merkel government. They are probably too busy trying to fix the unfixable euro crisis and the the mess created by the failed energy transition policy.