Monday, December 08, 2008

And which way is Russia headed?

Did you notice the report, the other day, of a raid by armed police on the St.Petersburg headquarters of the prestigious human rights organisation, Memorial, which was founded in 1989?

There is an anguished debate taking place regarding what this portends for Russia. Was the action a result of misplaced zeal by particular individuals, or does it signals the start of a new and dangerous chapter in the precarious life of Russia's NGOs?

Nikolai Mitrokhin, who is at the Centre for the E.European Studies at Bremen University, and used to work for Memorial, is reported to have said: ‘We can only hope this is a stupid mistake.... It is a strange development, as in recent years Memorial has had quite good relations with the regime. Although Memorial has been harshly critical of the actions of the Russian government in Chechnya and SouthOssetia, in general Memorial has been a regarded as a very prestigious NGO, one which the government has been prepared to do business."

We will soon see which way the wind is really blowing.

But let us not forget that increased internal repression can be for its own sake, or it can be a prelude to external adventures. Sphere: Related Content

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