Russia's Response to Protests Fuels U.S. Unease
DANIEL SCHORR: I was in the crowd in Red Square in 1988 when President Reagan, accompanied by Mikhail Gorbachev, proclaimed the end of the evil empire.
BLOCK: NPR senior news correspondent Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: In Crawford, Texas, in 2001, President Bush searched the soul of President Vladimir Putin and found it congenial. It was then that a Russian scholar who knows America wagged a finger at me and said: You will see, Mr. Schorr, one of these days you will be nostalgic for the Cold War.
That came back to me the other day as I recalled a Putin's speech denouncing America's unrestrained use of hyper-force, creating a world when no one feels safe. Then Putin proceeded to make the world unsafe for his peaceful opposition.
Managed democracy, he calls it. And in Moscow and St. Petersburg last weekend, hundreds of protesters, led by chess champion Garry Kasparov, were arrested, some beaten and interrogated about what the police called extremism.
Yesterday the Kremlin admitted that the police may have over reacted.
A new report by a former CIA officer, Reuel Gerecht, for the American Enterprise Institute says that Putin's Russia is a new phenomenon in Europe, a state dominated and defined by present and former security and intelligence officers.
At least 13 journalists have been killed during Putin's seven years in office. Often they've been shot at outside their apartment doors. One was a generally respected whistleblower on corruption, Anna Politkovskaya. Then there was the case of the British subject, Alexander Litvinenko, who died an agonizing death from a mysterious substance called polonium 210. The Kremlin, it seems, would like to make corruption a monopoly of the state.
It must be acknowledged that a recent Russian opinion poll showed Putin with nearly 70 percent popularity. A democratic opposition appears to have little support, which is why maybe Mikhail Gorbachev could say recently that protests are orchestrated from abroad and are unacceptable.
This is Daniel Schorr.
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