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The daily beast

Russia dives into era of ‘dictatorship’ as Putin looms over Eastern Europe

MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEVMOSCOW – The day started with a dystopian wave of preventive arrests. Many of his opponents were already under lock and key by the time President Vladimir Putin gave an annual State of the Nation address to remind people of the fate of popular uprisings near the Kremlin. Not seen since the invasion of Crimea, Putin prided himself on the fate of the pro-Western movement in Kiev, seven years after annexing part of its territory. Similar forces were at play in Belarus, said Putin, where the CIA was accused of instigating a coup against the pro-Russian leader, who rigged elections last year. Putin helped President Alexander Lukashenko quell the protest movement that rose up against the obviously stolen elections. National protesters gathered across Russia as he spoke, fully aware that a similar crackdown is underway here as Putin’s regime slides into dictatorship. Lukashenko on Thursday amid growing military and political ties between Moscow and the former Soviet client state. Putin has long wanted to set up a missile base in Belarus and would like to integrate the countries further, putting the former Soviet port of Kaliningrad within easy reach. allies as members of “Warsaw… [Pact]In the major landmark speech, Putin asserted that while the West was supposed to stir up insurgency in the region, “No one has thought about Ukraine’s fate and is not thinking about the consequences for Belarusians.” He warned that any further interference in Eastern Europe would be a “red line” for Russia. “The organizers of any provocation against Russia will regret [it] like never before, ”he said, promising asymmetric warfare as some 100,000 soldiers, tanks and fighter jets wait at the Ukrainian border. The recriminations against the uprisings in Russia have already started. Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, was targeted in a nerve agent attack last year and then jailed on trumped-up charges earlier this year. he languished in a prison hospital in a Siberian penal colony. Doctors say his life is “hanging by a thread.” After Navalny fell ill during a hunger strike and was denied access to independent medical professionals, his team called for a nationwide protest. Police stormed the apartments of Navalny supporters on Tuesday and Wednesday, hours before the rally, arresting people on the streets and at work in Krasnodar, Kurgan, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and many other cities. fear long prison terms, and not just short administrative detentions of up to 15 days, which were common throughout Putin’s era. And yet tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets in what they see as the final battle in transforming Putin into a dictator. One of those protesting is Navalny’s close friend Yevgeny Roizman, the former governor of the Sverdkovsk region. He drove several thousand marching through Yekaterinburg, despite road closures and police vehicles equipped with water cannons. Roizman told the Daily Beast on Wednesday that several years in prison was an unpleasant thought for a 58-year-old man. years, but he was unwavering. in his determination. “It’s a philosophical question for every Russian: either you live for the rest of your life as a slave and coward, or you feel like a free and courageous man,” he said. International described it as a slow-motion execution – experienced Kremlinologists, opposition politicians and journalists began to openly describe a radical change in domestic politics, a path to “dictatorship”, not the so-called model gentle authoritarian sometimes attributed to Russia. Moscow politician Vladimir Ryzhkov told the Daily Beast that the country has changed since Navalny was arrested at the airport on his way home from Germany three months ago. , “he said.” It will be even worse. Decline of the economy, outflow of capital, decrease in income, technological backwardness – these are the inevitable consequences of the domestic and foreign policy of Vladimir Putin. Professors and students have been deeply traumatized by police persecution against writers of the academic newspaper Doxa this month. Four of the young journalists have been arrested and more are being questioned – crackdown on student newspaper seen as another low in media repression even under Putin . be afraid to exercise our constitutional right to peaceful assembly, “a witness told the Daily Beast.” Many want to leave the country, but the courage of the authors of Doxa, who continue to publish despite the arrest of their friends, inspires all readers of the newspaper. ” Gennady Gudkov, a Russian opposition figure in exile, insisted that this dark new era would never stifle all opposition to Putin. “This is not the end of resistance in Russia,” he said. he told the Daily Beast, “When Putin turns into a dictator backed by military forces, the opposition will radicalize and work underground.” On Wednesday morning, Navalny’s wife Yulia posted an Instagram video of herself with the caption, “I’m the queen of the underground.” For more, check out The Daily Beast. best stories in your inbox. Sign up now! 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