Ivar Amundsen on the climax of the Russian presidential election

A Dangerous and Unpredictable Situation

By Ivar Amundsen
Director of the Chechnya Peace Forum


Ahead of the presidential election in Russia this coming Sunday I prepared an article for The Moscow Times. At the last moment they decided against publishing it – it was too strong! Russian censorship and self-censorship is a profound feature in Russia these days. A little more “Glasnost” and challenge to the regime would have served the Russian civil society well!

I attach the English and Russian versions which appear on various websites (including here on Rights in Russia - ed.). The Norwegian Dagbladet printed the article yesterday, Norwegian text also attached.

We are nearing the climax of the Russian presidential election. In the last week we have witnessed Putin’s aggressive rhetoric against the US, its ambassador, and the West in general. This was followed by the revelation of the so-called death plot against Putin. Yesterday Putin announced that his enemies would attempt to kill prominent people of the opposition with the intent of smearing him. In Russian mentality this means that precisely such a thing may be in the planning – by the regime! The opposition interprets it as an outright death-threat, however they will not be discouraged from going forward in their bid for change, lawfulness and democracy in Russia.

The Kremlin has thousands of troops on high alert in and around Moscow, including two regiments ordered from Ramzan Kadyrov. The signals are that Putin will manipulate a very clear win in the election on Sunday. The opposition plans for a major demonstration rally on Monday. This has been disallowed by the authorities, but will go forward. Should the regime come down hard on this rally with military force it may be a blood bath. Also, we may fear that individual public figures of the opposition may be targeted. Additionally there is the danger of an orchestrated terror attack.

I am concerned that paranoia and instability have taken possession of Mr. Putin, and view the situation now as dangerous and unpredictable.
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Rights in Russia,
1 Mar 2012, 06:49
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Rights in Russia,
1 Mar 2012, 06:49
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Rights in Russia,
1 Mar 2012, 06:50
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