Vladimir Putin cracks down on dissent as ally threatens nuclear war

Vladimir Putin cracks down on dissent as ally threatens nuclear war
image via Creative Commons

In Russia, being openly critical of the invasion of Ukraine can result in criminal charges or being classified as an extremist or a terrorist by federal authorities. The latest victim, The Washington Post reports on Thursday, is Olesya Krivtsova, a 19-year-old Russian college student who opposed the war on Instagram.

The Post’s Mary Ilyushina, in an article published on January 19, explains, “Soon after the explosion on the Crimean Bridge in October…. Olesya Krivtsova posted an Instagram story criticizing Russia’s war in Ukraine. Her fellow students at Northern Federal University, in the northern city of Arkhangelsk, took a screenshot of the Instagram story as well as of Krivtsova’s anti-war comments shared in a small chatroom on the Telegram messaging app and reported her to the authorities. Three months later, Russian officials deemed that sufficient to add Krivtsova to a list of terrorists and extremists, on par with the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and to charge her with discrediting the Russian Army under laws adopted last March to stifle public criticism of the war.”

READ MORE:How some 'traitors' in Ukraine have been helping Vladimir Putin's 'invaders': report

Krivtsova’s legal troubles come at a time when allies and supporters of President Vladimir Putin aren’t growing any less extreme in their threats or rhetoric. One such ally is former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of Putin's security council.

Medvedev, on Telegram, implied that a “nuclear war” could come about if Putin loses his war in Ukraine. The Putin predecessor, according to Reuters, posted, “The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger a nuclear war…. Nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends.”

One Russian who knows from first-hand experience how dangerous Putin and his allies can be is imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. According to New York Times reporters Anushka Patil and Ivan Nechepurenko, Navalny’s allies are worried about the conditions he is facing in a Russian prison.

Patil and Nechepurenko report, “The Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, whose health has deteriorated in prison, has gotten another unusual public show of support, as dozens of current and former municipal deputies and local lawmakers signed an open letter on Wednesday, (January 18) demanding that he receive more humane treatment and access to proper medical care. Their open letter to President Vladimir V. Putin is the latest in a series of public appeals from members of Russian civil society who have braved his crackdown on dissent since the invasion of Ukraine. Last week, hundreds of Russian doctors signed a petition imploring Mr. Putin to ‘stop abusing’ Mr. Navalny. And dozens of Russian lawyers signed a similar letter this week, the independent news outlet Meduza reported.”

READ MORE: Watch: Tucker Carlson lashes out at 'aging' Republicans 'in their orthopedic shoes' for opposing Vladimir Putin

Krivtsova, Ilyushina stresses in the Post, is a prime example of the “depth of intolerance for dissent in wartime Russia,” where authorities are “targeting not just organized political opposition movements, which have largely been dismantled, but seemingly harmless individuals” such as Krivtsova.

“The court proceedings against her are expected to be a show trial, aimed at instilling fear in others who do not support the invasion,” Ilyushina reports. “Krivtsova was detained twice, first in late December when a group of officers banged on the door of the apartment she shared with her husband…. In Krivtsova’s case, a judge in the Primorsky regional court at first ruled to limit her communications but ruled against restricting her movements, despite strong requests from the prosecution. But a few days later, Krivtsova was placed on a wanted list and detained again.”

READ MORE: 'Dark times': These Russians are blaming Vladimir Putin for deadly infrastructure failures

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