Globe and Mail 3/5: Russia’s war against pro-democracy leaders

The limits of Opposition International’s responses to authoritarian crackdowns.

Vladimir Kara-Murza

“The invasion of Ukraine isn’t going as planned for the Putin regime, but on the home front, a crackdown on dissent has largely succeeded for now.”


In Paris, a short distance from the Louvre, an activist in a Putin mask visits a mockup of the punishment cell where Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny is being held.STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

MacKinnon in the Globe and Mail today has an in-depth look at Vladimir Putin’s assault on the political opposition to his war in Ukraine and his USSR-redux government. It is an important if depressing read. Mark is a wonderful writer; it is an infuriating picture he must describe.

Opposition International needs to make clear that we have a very limited role in countries’ beset by authoritarian regimes determined to suppress opposition parties and punish their leaders. OI can report the names of individuals detained and report on threatening situations. We can bear witness with other concerned organizations such as Amnesty International.

We cannot operate in countries whose governments would ban us. (I have no illusion that currently we are too new and small to be noticed.) In countries with an official opposition, or at least a tolerated one, OI gladly offers its training on, for instance, forensic caucus research.

As we grow, we hope to offer direct assistance to opposition leaders who can operate in the diaspora. We plan for a facility in Toronto, a diverse city, which is emerging as a global hub for diaspora political coordination. The ministers of repressive governments can go to New York and recite speeches at the UN General Assembly: Opposition party leaders can come to Toronto and give the other side of the story.

That said, here is the link to the Globe and Mail story (no paywall!!!)

Ilya Yashin makes a virtual court appearance in an appeal, which he lost, of his sentence on ‘fake news charges. ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Police in Moscow arrest Mr. Navalny in 2012 and clash with his supporters in 2021. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES; MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS
Law-enforcement officers sit in a Moscow court building on April 17 as a TV broadcasts a hearing in progress for Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza. MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS