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Russia: KPRF Winning Support Of Liberals For Opposing Latest Repressions Despite Backing Authoritarian Laws – OpEd

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The KPRF is successfully presenting itself as an opponent of the Kremlin’s repressive policies and wining support from Russian liberals, Sergey Mitrokhin says, even though its deputies were among those who voted for the laws on the basis of which the current crackdown on the population is taking place.

The Yabloko leader says that the communists are winning support from liberals because the latter, on the basis of the idea of “smart voting” Aleksey Navalny has promoted, believe that their interests are best served by seeing the share of United Russia deputies fall and that the KPRF can do that while liberal parties won’t be in the new Duma.

But Mitrokhin argues that no one should be deceived by the KPRF’s electoral feint or by the arguments for smart voting that are leading those committed to democracy to vote for it. The record of the KPRF is simply too supportive of repressive legislation to imagine that it can be relied on in the future (echo.msk.ru/blog/sergei_mitrohin/2898648-echo/

Among the repressive laws the KPRF backed are those labelling people foreign agents, imposing criminal punishments on those who challenge the official line on World War II, giving the Russian Guard more power, allowing the authorities to revive the use of psychiatric prisons against dissident, and restricting freedom of communication via electronic means.

In addition, Mitrokhin says, the KPRF voted to give the government greater control over universities, to give Moscow the power to ignore international law, to allow the Putin elite to profit exorbitantly from renovations in the capital, and to destroy local government as a representative of the people.

This list could be extended almost to infinity, the Yabloko leader says, although he concedes there were Kremlin initiatives the KPRF didn’t support. But in most cases, they abstained from voting rather than making any move to oppose what Vladimir Putin and the government wanted.

“Some apologists for supporting the KPRF suggest that the most important thing is that the party opposed the Constitutional amendments.” That is true, but no one should forget that as soon as they were approved, the KPRF lined up with United Russia to approve the legislation enabling the provisions of those amendments.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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