Tag Archive | "Valdimir Putin"

Critical Analysis: Putin Signals Change in Human Rights Policy… Every Time the Olympics are in Town

Famed Russian political prisoner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was released from prison last week in a surprise pardon by President Vladimir Putin.  Khodorkovsky, was an oil tycoon before incarceration as well as the richest man in Russia at one time.  Through a series of deals negotiated with the government, Khodorkovsky bought up many state oil companies following the collapse of the communist government in the early nineties.  Officially charged with tax evasion – many believed that he was imprisoned for his vocal opposition to Putin as well as using his immense wealth to back Putin’s opposition.

Khodorkovsky at a court hearing in 2008. Image Source: Reuters

Khodorkovsky at a court hearing in 2008. Image Source: Reuters

According to the Kremlin, after ten years Mikhail Khodorkovsky requested a pardon because of humanitarian reasons.  Although attorneys for Khodorkovsky had appealed many times, this was the first pardon requested.  Furthermore, the request apparently came directly from Khodorkovsky as initial reports stated his lawyers knew nothing about it.  Some surmise it was in response to rumors that Russian prosecutors were readying a third case against him, in spite of his scheduled release date this upcoming August.

This move from Putin has left many wondering what is to become of two other high profile cases – that of two members in the political rock group “Pussy Riot” and thirty Greenpeace activists.  Both cases have drawn tremendous publicity worldwide.  The incarcerated rock band members received two-year sentences for performing a song in a Russian Cathedral.  The song was received as being both raunchy as well as critical of Putin.  The Greenpeace activists are awaiting trial on their cases for protesting aboard an oil rig.

President Putin recently introduced legislation that will likely answer the question of their fates.  The legislation, often referred to as an “Amnesty Bill,” is being rushed through legislation.  Once signed, all of the cases in question will qualify for pardons – something most in and out of Russia believe will occur.   Given the current temperature of media inside the state, these pardons are no longer a surprise.  Weeks and months ago, however, Putin had promised that nothing of the sort would occur, stating, “This is a serious thing for us. And we do not plan to soften (our stance), we will only be toughening it.”

Two things have some questioning the sincerity of the Kremlin’s generosity.  First is the proximity of these moves to the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  With the spotlight on Russia’s human right’s record, the timing of these releases is peculiar to say the least.  Additionally, the releases are, so far, small in scale.  The prison doors are far from being flung open.  Secondly, is the way that the releases were carried out.  The releases – both past and impending – are centered around the executive rather than the judiciary.  That raises the question of whether these maneuvers are any actual departure from Putin’s measured democracy whatsoever.

Tom Dunlop is a 3L at Denver University and a Staff Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy

Posted in 1TVFA Posts, 2Featured Articles, DJILP Staff, Tom DunlopComments (0)

News Post: What Will Russia Look Like Under the Next Putin Regime?

By: Breden Desmond

Even with the foregone election of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to a third term as Russian President, questions remain about what path Russia will take under the next Putin regime.

Elected to his third term with 64 percent of the vote, it is unclear what path Putin will take for the next six years.  While there were hundreds of protestors arrested, Mr. Putin did admit to vote irregularities.  “There were, of course, violations.  We need to identify them all, weed them out and make everything clear to everyone,” the India Times quoted Mr. Putin as saying.

Vladimir Putin

International observers, however, have said that the irregularities here were less flagrant than occurred in the December parliamentary elections.  And while one polling station in Chechnya had 107 percent turnout with only one vote for someone other than Mr. Putin, no one disagrees that Mr. Putin did not get a majority of the vote due to the lack of real competition.

Some, however, doubt whether the openness about election fraud will lead to the same openness throughout the political system.  As the BBC notes, “[r]epeatedly Mr Putin has warned that some activists, fuelled by support from abroad, might be trying to fuel public disorder with the aim of sowing the seeds of chaos and bringing down the government.”  And the crackdown on Monday night of protestors may show how Mr. Putin will not accept internal dissent.  As the Washington Post notes, the defense of the police action as showing “a ‘high level of professionalism, legitimacy and effectiveness,’” signals “that the government would show no hesitation to use force again on protestors.” Additionally, while admitting to the voting irregularity, Mr. Putin “shrugged off opposition claims of rampant vote fraud as irrelevant,” stating “it’s an element of political struggle, it has no relation to the election.”

Yet, with the quick release of many of the protestors, as well Mr. Putin reaching out to the other presidential candidates, this may be a sign of new things to come.

Posted in 1TVFA Posts, 2Featured Articles, Brenden Desmond, DJILP StaffComments (0)


University of Denver Sturm College of Law

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