Editorial written by Garry Kasparov for the Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2005
In this article Garry Kasparov compares Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Roman emperor Caligula (AD 12–41), who is said to have made his his horse a Consul in the Roman Senate. Kasparov accused Putin of creating a puppet judiciary to persecute the opposition and blasted the West for focusing on upholding an economic relation with Russia and ignoring mounting human rights violations. The full article is available only to subscribers of the Wall Street Journal Online, but it was reprínted in full on the easily accessible Conservative web site The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. It will probably not stay up for very long at that location.
Democratic reform in the former Soviet Union has been much in the news lately thanks to the victory of Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine. Citizens took to the streets in the millions to protest and force a new election when his Kremlin-backed opponent tried to steal it the first time around. President George W. Bush came in dead last in the race to congratulate the new Ukrainian president. He waited for his "good friend" Vladimir Putin's own tardy acknowledgment that he had been unsuccessful in undermining Ukrainian democracy as effectively as he is dismantling Russia's.
An expanding network of judges and district attorneys is being used to persecute the opposition and enrich Putin loyalists. A puppet judiciary has been created to accompany the puppet parliament. To add insult to injury, a man from Putin's St. Petersburg with no judicial experience was just named to the highest arbitration court in the land, a move akin to Caligula's naming a horse to the Senate.
Illegal expropriation is becoming institutional policy. The Duma rubberstamps Putin decrees. In the criminal courts they have brought back an old Soviet law allowing the state to confiscate the property of the convicted.
19 members of Putin's parliament signed a letter to the attorney general that condemned "evil acts by Jews against Russian patriots" and said that all the anti-Semitic activities in Russia, such as blowing up synagogues and desecrating cemeteries, were organized by Jews to provoke local officials.
Criticism of Mr. Putin and his regime simply will not be tolerated. Censorship and repression are threatening to surpass oil and gas as Russia's biggest exports.
Kasparov aims for Putin checkmate (BBC article from Jan. 11, 2005)