Another good bit on Putin's Russia from La Russophobe, this time an overview of a story by Dr. Robert Horvath, a research fellow at Melbourne University's Contemporary Europe Research Centre and author of The Legacy of Soviet Dissent: Dissidents, Democratisation and Radical Nationalism in Russia.
Some key quotes:
IT WAS ironic that Paul Keating's exhortation for us to extend a warm welcome to Vladimir Putin was published in The Age on September 5, the anniversary of one of the most tragic events in Russian history.
It was on that day in 1918 that the Bolshevik regime issued its decree on the "Red Terror", which authorised the secret police, the Cheka, to conduct extrajudicial executions and to incarcerate "class enemies" in concentration camps. Many decades later, prisoners in the Gulag would mark that day with ceremonies in memory of the victims of the "Red Terror", which they understood to be the source of the violence that culminated in the mass slaughter of the 1930s.
And some more:
The primary reason for the Kremlin's sabre-rattling on the international stage is to be found not in the West, but in the peculiar brand of neo-totalitarianism that is emerging in Putin's Russia.
Today, the Russian state is dominated by "Chekists" and other representatives of the Soviet-era security apparatus, who have systematically destroyed the fragile structures of an emerging democracy. During the past seven years, they have stifled the independent media, emasculated parliament, intimidated lawyers and imposed rigid controls on civil society.
If the murders of some of Putin's most outspoken critics remain unsolved, there is no doubt about the Kremlin's responsibility for the carnage in Chechnya. The razing of Grozny, a city of 400,000 before the first Russian invasion, is an atrocity that has no parallel in European history since the Nazis' destruction of Warsaw. In accordance with Putin's promise, in criminal slang, "to waste the terrorists in the shithouse", his security forces unleashed a campaign of "disappearances" on a scale that Human Rights Watch designated as a crime against humanity.
I've quoted quite a bit. Go read the whole thing for yourself.