World

US Must Support Russian Protesters

| by Shani Shahmoon

Russians are finally addressing the stench of corruption that has spread since Russian President Vladimir Putin's reign began.

Now well into his fourth term and expected to win the upcoming 2018 election, Putin has done a good job in silencing the opposition and prolonging any efforts for transparency.

On March 26, protests opposing Putin's administration came out in full force, reportedly rallying thousands of people. The movement was said to be potentially the biggest wave of protests in Russia since 2011. Reports claim that over a thousand protestors have been detained, according to CNN.

President Donald Trump's administration, already under high scrutiny and investigation for its alleged chummy relationship with Putin, remained quiet as the clock ticked away, with good Americans waiting for Trump to do what any good U.S. president would do: condemn it.

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It took 12 hours (several hours too many) since the crackdown on protesters began to overtake the media for the administration to say something, BuzzFeed reported.

Spokesperson Mark Toner finally condemned the situation and said, "The United States will monitor this situation, and we call on the government of Russia to immediately release all peaceful protesters."

Trump has made it clear that under former President Barack Obama's administration, the United States lost its strength and power among world leaders, and that under Trump's administration, America would climb back up that ladder.

So where's the strong hand you promised, Trump?

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Alexei Navalny, the leader of Kremlin's opposition, sparked these wave of protests after releasing information claiming that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Madvedev had been stealing money from the government to support his luxurious lifestyle. Navalny was arrested at the start of the protests on a charge of disobeying police and will be held in jail for 15 days, NPR states.

Navalny has openly stated his intentions to run against Putin in the upcoming election.

The Russian president took days to respond to the cries of the people, and when he did he said that such protesting holds the potential of an uprising, The New York Times reported.

“We well know, and I want to direct your attention to the fact, that this instrument was used in the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring. We know very well what this led to, to what bloody events it led to in this region,” Putin said.

“We likewise know very well that this was one of the inciting motives and pretexts for the coup d’etat in Ukraine. We also know well into what chaos these events sunk our neighbor, Ukraine,” he added.

So what exactly are you saying, Putin?

Let's take a brief look at the Tunisian Revolution, the reported birth of the Arab Spring.

As the uprising started, President Zine el-Abedin Ben Ali reacted by stifling social media, then violently responding to protests. There were unlawful arrests and, finally, he shut down the entire internet in Tunisia, Cornell University outlines.

Or how about Egypt?

There, the same thing happened. Protesters against the government took to the streets and were responded to with violence and were then arrested -- the shutting down of the internet and all cell service soon followed.

Putin seems to be defending the response of those governments and potentially threatening that he will do the same.

And if we want to be "stronger" than the Obama administration, we must be better at holding Russia accountable for its heinous actions.  

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Sources: CNN, Cornell University (2), BuzzFeed, NPR, The New York Times / Photo credit: CNN

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