Vladimir Putin has been President of Russia since 7 May 2012. Putin previously served as President from 2000 to 2008, and as Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012. Putin was also previously the Chairman of the United Russia political party. He has amassed enough power that he can now be considered Russia’s new homophobic dictator.
Putin’s actions have been labeled ‘undemocratic’ by the Russian people. He is able to force his will on the parliament and the people. Protestors against his policies are imprisoned.
Today Putin signed a bill into law that contains the most stringent and suppressive measures ever imposed by any ‘democratic’ country in history, virtually banning the LGBT community from the nation.
The law, which stigmatizes gay people and bans giving children any information about homosexuality, passed easily in parliament with the full support of Putin. Putin called it an effort to eliminate the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” He called homosexuality a ‘western liberal policy,’ that is unsupported by the Russian Orthodox Church. He claims that the youth of Russia were being corrupted by western values.
The law provides for hefty fines for anyone disseminating any and all LGBT information, or participating in gay pride parades.
Criticism of Putin is not allowed inside Russia, but there is much to be heard from outside the country. His popularity has dropped somewhat inside Russia, but remains on the plus side. Much of it is attributed to the state owned television network, which constantly praises Putin’s policies. Insiders say that the Putin Administration also employs a group of young bloggers who constantly praise the president.
Outside of the country, WikiLeaks labeled Putin the “alpha dog” and compared him with Batman; (while Dmitry Medvedev was compared with Batman’s crime-fighting partner Robin).
American diplomats said Putin’s Russia had become “a corrupt, autocratic, and is centerd on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organized crime are bound together to create a “virtual mafia state.”
Russian opposition and commentators within the United States have labeled him a ‘dictator.’ Former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband has described Putin as a “ruthless dictator” whose “days are numbered.” U.S. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Putin “a real threat to the stability and peace of the world.”
In the fall of 2011, the anti-Putin opposition movement in Russia became more visible, with street protests against allegedly falsified parliamentary elections (in favor of Putin’s party, United Russia) cropping up across major Russian cities.
At present, Putin has threatened the United States concerning the possible use of American aircraft based in Jordan to attack Syrian security forces. (Russia supplies Syria the majority of its sophisticated arsenal).
He also refused to surrender NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to United States authorities. He offered Snowden asylum if he would cease leaking secrets, but the former CIA contractor declined.
“Just because he feels that he is a human rights defender, rights activist, he doesn’t seem to have an intention to stop such work,” Putin said.
The cold war ended years ago, but with Putin, a former KGB officer, in command, the perception of Russia has not changed. Results of elections are questionable, and the people fear expressing criticism of the president. There is little evidence to disprove that Vladimir Putin has now become Russia’s new dictator.
Alfred James reporting Op-Ed