Over the weekend, we learned that a group of Russian officials in the Moscow area had issued a statement calling on Vladimir Putin to resign. A second group in St. Petersburg went a bit further, calling on the State Duma to charge Putin with high treason over his decision to invade Ukraine. So whatever happened to those guys? None of them have been subjected to defenistroika yet (Ed Morrissey came up with that, by the way, not me), at least that we know of. They haven’t even tragically “fallen into the sea” as people sometimes do in Russia these days. But some of them may be out of a job or at least be losing a chunk of money in the near future. One member of the St. Petersburgh municipal deputy group, Dmitry Palyuga, was summoned to police headquarters yesterday and fined $780 for “discrediting the Russian government.” More of his colleagues received a summons as well. (Newsweek)
A Russian politician who was part of a group that appealed to the country’s parliament last week to remove President Vladimir Putin from power on a charge of high treason, has been fined for “discrediting” the Russian government.
Dmitry Palyuga, a municipal deputy for Smolninskoe in St. Petersburg, was fined 47,000 rubles ($780), days after he and other members were accused of committing actions aimed at discrediting the Kremlin.
He announced the news on Twitter, adding that he intends to appeal the decision to fine him.
Four other members of the council where Palyuga serves received a summons to come and chat with the police. They similarly expect to be fined and all of them indicated they plan to appeal the decision.
There could be more on the way, of course. Russia’s Parliament already passed legislation allowing for prison terms of up to fifteen years for anyone found to be “spreading misinformation” about the “special military action” in Ukraine. Gee… I wonder where they came up with that idea. They didn’t get it from Joe Biden’s attempted Ministry of Truth, did they? We may never know.
Nikita Yuferev, another deputy who serves alongside Palyuga, predicted on social media that their entire council would be “dissolved” next week and replaced with some new governmental body more friendly to the current Kremlin regime. That move has not yet been officially announced, but it likely won’t come as a surprise to anyone if it happens. Putin’s spokesman told reporters yesterday that local officials must be “very careful” when criticizing the government. I think most of them are getting the message.
This group may not be the last to take the fall, however. Boris Nadezhdin, a former member of the Parliament recently said that it is “impossible for Russia to defeat Ukraine” and called for peace talks. It’s a fairly safe bet that he will be getting a visit or a phone call fairly soon. That’s just how things work in Putin’s Russia.
There’s something of a parallel between what we’re seeing in Russia and what’s been going on in China. We went through a period where the west was encouraging Russia to embrace capitalism and expand business opportunities for its citizens. We did the same thing with China for decades. The Chinese instead grabbed all of the money, took control of the global supply chain, and kept everything under the tight, authoritarian control of the Chinese Communist Party. In Russia, business expanded across the board, but almost all of it wound up being controlled by corrupt government officials and the oligarchs who grew fantastically wealthy supporting them. In neither country did much of the wealth trickle down to the common people. And now that the mask of civility is being ripped away in Russia by the events surrounding Putin’s war, his true nature is being fully revealed with every voice that is silenced and every person who disappears after criticizing him. But this is nothing new, really. He’s always been this way.