The international press freedom NGO Reporters Without Borders vigorously criticised Vladimir Putin this week, listing him among its top 39 “Predators of Freedom of Information.”
This updated list, released in honour of World Press Freedom Day, said of Putin:
“If just one word were needed to describe Vladimir Putin, who was catapulted into the presidency in 2000 after a decade of dilution of authority, it would have to be “control-freak.”
…Since his return to the presidency in May 2012, Putin’s rhetoric has become even more militaristic and Cold War-like. Media critics? Manipulated by the US state department. Pussy Riot and their ilk? Anti-Semites who undermine public decency and destroy the country. Human rights NGOs? Foreign agents.”
The report further noted the suffering of plight of independent journalists under Putin’s rule, which includes routine intimidation and even murder:
“No fewer than 29 journalists have been murdered in direct connection with their work since Putin became president. Physical attacks and murders occur with regularity and are encouraged by the impunity enjoyed by their perpetrators. After a particularly intense wave of violence from 2008 to 2010, Putin and Dmitry Medvedev both gave personal undertakings to combat impunity. With no effect.”
Also in the news this week— a group of 171 leading child psychologists, psychiatrists and educators have written a joint letter to Vladimir Putin, asking him to allow 100 Russian children in the final stage of their adoption proceedings to be allowed to join their adoptive parents in the U.S. These children have been prevented from doing so as a result of the passage of the so-called “Dima Yakolev Law,” passed in retaliation against the U.S. for the Congress’ passage of the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act” in December 2012. Among other measures, the Dima Yakolev Law bans U.S. citizens from adopting Russian children, prompting activists to refer to it as “Herod’s Law,” as it punishes the innocent in order to make a point.
According to The Moscow Times:
“The open letter says the children had met with the potential parents many times and developed an emotion attachment, but the courts were unable to finalize the adoptions before the government swiftly imposed a ban on U.S. parents adopting Russian children on Jan. 1.
[…] “‘After long meetings with the American adoptive parents, the children have grown emotionally attached to them, managed to learn to love them, and have already begun to perceive them as their own daddies and mommies,’ the letter says. ‘It is unacceptable that these little children again have to experience betrayal and abandonment. After such a psychological trauma, they will not be able to trust people, live normally, and successfully develop further.'”
The letter also notes that many of the children have serious psychological disorders and health problems that require care unavailable in Russia.”
While looking at different issues, both this letter and the “predator” designation underscore the callousness at the heart of Russia’s current leadership.