NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Liberals in the Crosshairs: The Russian opposition’s troubles are only beginning.” – The National Interest/Maria Snegovaya
As Russia approaches parliamentary elections scheduled in September 2016, the prospects for Russia’s so-called nonsystem liberal opposition look increasingly gloomy. Not only have democratic opposition leaders failed to create a unified coalition yet again, as in essentially every previous election – a failure that will likely diminish their already limited chances to win seats in Russia’s federal and regional parliaments – but they also increasingly suffer fro persecution and attacks by pro-Kremlin groups. … Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his anti-corruption activists were attacked, thrown to the ground and beaten by a group of men at an airport in the southern Russian resort Anapa … in late April, pro-Kremlin activists attacked schoolboys with ammonia and disinfectants at an event organized by the human rights group Memorial. One of the participants, acclaimed Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya, was sprayed in the face with a green disinfectant. In February 2016, one of the leaders of Russia’s opposition, Mikhail Kasyanov, was assaulted in a Moscow restaurant when a group of men burst in, threatened to kill him and threw cake in his face. In general, the attacks on the nonsystem opposition have been on the rise recently: the opposition members have been assaulted with cakes, eggs, caustic liquids and fists. Russian state TV channels repeatedly broadcast programs ‘exposing’ opposition leaders as paid agents of the West or showing them engaging in intimate sexual relations. Some assaults are more extreme last winter another opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov, was shot and killed in front of the Kremlin.