Reporter’s Notebook: Shaking down ‘scoundrels’ wherever they are

Streaming HUBJanuary 23, 2023

It took a famous actor who once played a Russian soldier in a popular film to shut down Russia’s State Duma. When Artur Smolyaninov told “Novaya Gazeta Europe” that he would fight on the Ukrainian side if the war were to get involved, plans were quickly launched to punish those like Smolyaninov who have fled Russia and Criticism from outside advocates.

Speaking to Telegram, the speaker of the lower house of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, called people like Smolyaninov “scoundrels” and suggested amending Russia’s criminal code to allow the state to take away the property of Russians who “rest” abroad. live from”.

But for many of the millions who have fled Russia, including journalists who have been released or face prison for speaking the truth, their hasty deportation has been less than smooth. They left homes and family behind indefinitely and because their country is on the wrong side of this war, they don’t always feel welcome in their new homes. However the situation will get worse for them if another punitive measure being discussed will be acted upon. Completely revoking his Russian citizenship.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(Alexander Demyanchuk, Kremlin pool photo via Sputnik, AP)

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“Taking away Russian citizenship can be a really heavy blow, because these days we still need certain documents,” said Andrei Soldatov, an exiled security service specialist and author of the book “The Compatriots.” for longer. “And applying for political asylum, it’s a very difficult process. Many of my friends, journalists and activists, don’t want to apply for political asylum because they want to be active. If you’re applying, you’re not working. Can do.”

More chilling is the fact, Soldatov says, that threats have also been made to go after the deportees, wherever they are.

“We have a former Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy head of the Security Council, proposing to send death squads after Russian exiles who remain politically active. And he said that very openly. , which was a new low for the Russian state.” In fact, it was a veiled reference to what Soldatov and others understood as mortal danger. Medvedev also said in a telegram earlier this month, “Let us recall the experience of the ‘Great Patriotic War’ (as World War II is commonly referred to in Russia). Special rules always apply in times of war.” and a quiet group of apparently obscure people who effectively perform them.”

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at the Russian International Affairs Council in Moscow, March 23, 2012.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at the Russian International Affairs Council in Moscow, March 23, 2012.
(AP)

The TASS news agency, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, made a cryptic comment on the fate of the exiles. “They are all our citizens, all equally, and all may have different reasons for leaving. It is a very difficult subject.”

It is not clear whether these punitive proposals will fructify, but a strong message has been sent. I asked Soldatov why the Russian government, which at the beginning of the war spoke of purging “scum” and “traitors”, was not satisfied only to see the backs of the hundreds of thousands who are against the war and have left? Why the need to try to punish those who are gone?

“It’s about many things,” Soldatov said. “First of all, we see that people in the country rely largely on information provided from outside if they want to know the truth, and this is an interesting and dramatic change, the first time in history people in Russia have seen this. have relied on information provided by Russian journalists who are now in exile.

Russian policemen detain a demonstrator protesting against mobilization in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

Russian policemen detain a demonstrator protesting against mobilization in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.
(AP Photo)

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“But it’s also about something else. When the Kremlin finds itself in a difficult spot, they look to the past to try to find ways that work. And these days it’s more and more like Stalin’s About. They really believe under Stalin. The secret services were extremely effective.”

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