Russian president Vladimir Putin is at it again, flexing his authoritarian muscles. This time, he’s trying to get the Russian media to resemble more closely the American media in the Obama era:
According to Reuters,
“President Vladimir Putin tightened his control over Russia’s media on Monday by dissolving the main state news agency and replacing it with an organization that is to promote Moscow’s image abroad.
“The move to abolish RIA Novosti and create a news agency to be known as Rossiya Segodnya is the second in two weeks strengthening Putin’s hold on the media as he tries to reassert his authority after protests against his rule.
“Most Russian media outlets are already loyal to Putin, and opponents get little air time, but the shake-up underlined their importance to Putin keeping power and the Kremlin’s concern about the president’s ratings and image.” (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/09/us-russia-media-idUSBRE9B80I120131209)
Ahem: the Kremlin’s “concern about the president’s ratings and image.” Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? Of course, we’ve had state-run media for the last 5 years.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, massive crowds are resisting being pulled back into the Russian orbit. Protests have erupted over a trade pact, but the anti-communist sentiment runs much deeper than angst over a trade negotiation.
According to the New York Times, “Public protests thundered into a full-throttle civil uprising in Ukraine on Sunday, as hundreds of thousands of protesters answered President Viktor F. Yanukovich’s dismissiveness with their biggest rally so far, demanding that he and his government resign.
“At the height of the unrest on Sunday night, a seething crowd toppled and smashed a statue of Lenin, the most prominent monument to the Communist leader in Kiev. The act was heavy with symbolism, underscoring the protesters’ rage at Russia over its role in the events that first prompted the protests: Mr. Yanukovich’s abrupt refusal to sign sweeping political and free-trade agreements with the European Union.”
Back to the USSR? Putin says “yes.” Those likely to be under his jackboot say “nyet.”
Remember as you watch this unfold a continent away that what is happening here is not that far removed from what is happening there. Tyranny—hard or soft—comes in many forms. As the Ukrainians are showing, it’s up to the people to turn it back. Whatever it takes.
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