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Sergei Kovalev: Questions for Putin on 7 June [Ekho Moskvy]

posted 18 Jun 2018, 12:05 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Jun 2018, 12:14 ]

5 June 2018

By Sergei Kovalev, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group 

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source:  Ekho Moskvy]

Dear friends!

Below are the questions I sent to Mr Putin for the Direct Line TV broadcast to take place on 7 June.

As you see, the questions are sharp ones, and certainly inconvenient for the President. Of course, his office will screen them out. But if there are a lot of them, and we know how many, then it will be easy to find the presidential office guilty of cheating. Or if he does answer them (the chances of which are about zero), well, let him answer. That would be interesting too. If you want to support my idea, send these questions to the President (via the website with an addendum that says something like: “I agree with the questions sent you by S. Kovalev” and then give the text. If you can, spread my request as widely as you can.

Questions to Putin for 7 June 2018

I've decided to publish these questions. I don't want them to get lost in the President's office.

1. Do you agree that a mechanism allowing for the replacement of those in power is an indispensable condition for democracy? If so, then why do you call our present state system a democracy? After all, by 2024, the end of your presidential term, you will have stayed in the Kremlin longer not only than Brezhnev but, terrible as it is to say, even Stalin?

If you think that the absence of such a mechanism is completely compatible with democracy, then please explain why major academics, famous journalists and writers, authoritative politicians and, finally, hundreds of millions of citizens of civilised countries, hold a contrary opinion? Is it a mass delusion? Such things happen, of course. So the idea must be firmly refuted as quickly as possible. This is not a small matter; it concerns us all.

As I see it, the murder of Kirov in 1934 was undoubtedly the start of Stalinist one-man rule. However, the defining of historical periods is a matter for professional historians. It’s not that important for my question.

2. In December 2011, you, the leader of the country, allowed yourself to offend the citizens of this country. You referred to those who disagreed with your policy and held large-scale peaceful demonstrations as Bandar-logs, referring to your “favourite” writer Rudyard Kipling. And you indelicately referred to the white ribbons on the chests of demonstrators as condoms. Well, there’s no point demanding a basic understanding of literature and decency from a man who owes his upbringing first to street gangs and then to the KGB. But the guarantor of the Constitution (Article 80, item 2) could still look into that document's second chapter and realise that one of his duties is to ensure freedom of speech, assembly, rallies and demonstrations.

What do you say about this, Mr President? Do you really think that the shields, batons and jackboots of the rapidly multiplying police will ensure these freedoms?

3. And something else more on “freedom of speech”. At the start of your first presidential term, on the night of 13-14 April 2001, NTV was taken over by force and nationalised. Then TV-6 was nationalised, and well, censorship set in. How is it possible to imagine that state media will become independent?

This campaign of nationalisation, i.e. the transformation of journalists into government officials, coincided very closely with the broadcasts about the tragedy of the Kursk submarine. Remember how long you took before you broke off your vacation? But there were still people alive in the submarine!

And the “Ryazan sugar” incident – maybe it was sugar, or maybe it was explosives, that KGB officers put in the cellar of a 16-storey apartment block in Ryazan.

And the satirical programme Dolls on NTV. And the Little Zaches sketch, that’s you, Mr President!

Well, Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin laughed, seeing himself on Dolls, but Vladimir Vladimirovich tolerates neither criticism nor jokes – it’s a matter of state prestige, you understand.

Well, what exactly is my third question, you ask? What will calm this situation down, Vladimir Vladimirovich? The guilty are always punished in the end. Will we start to lie that we are surrounded by enemies, when it is us who snatch pieces of land, now from Georgia, and now Crimea? And we will scare everyone with our inordinate force, and lie shamelessly. And what about you? Maybe you will now increase the presidential term to 10 years – and why stop at that? How about a lifetime presidency? There are examples, and anyway people are buying it. It’s not a question of fortune telling. If you’ll forgive the slang, it’s pretty obvious that people are buying it. And how do you think a country will live whose people whose people are overconfident, but have forgotten to think for themselves?

Translated by Anna Bowles