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A New Treason Bill ?

By       Message Ludwik Kowalski       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Something very serious is now developing in Russia. This is described in Yevgeny Kiselyov’s article “Don't Talk to Strangers or Foreigners,” published on December 20, 2008--in the English language newspaper The Moscow Times. The author writes:

 “Under a new amendment to the law on treason, which was sent to the State Duma on Dec. 12 for approval, I could get 12 to 20 years in prison for the article you are about to read. The changes would give authorities extremely wide latitude to interpret what constitutes treason. This is how the old definition of treason reads: ‘a hostile act directed at damaging the external security of the Russian Federation.’ If the Duma approves the new amendment, the phrase ‘hostile act’ would read simply ‘act,’ and ‘external security’ would be broadened to ‘security.’ In addition, treason would also include the following activities: ‘rendering financial, technical, consultative or other assistance to a foreign state, international or foreign organizations or their representatives in activities directed against the security of the Russian Federation, including its constitutional order, sovereignty and territorial and state integrity.’

. . . Human rights advocates are in shock. The definition of an ‘act’  of treason is so loosely defined that prosecutors and law enforcement agencies can interpret it any way they see fit. Moreover, even inactivity could qualify as an ‘act’ of treason. Imagine that a journalist or political commentator submits to the foreign press an article that criticizes the constitutional amendment to extend the presidential term from four to six years or expresses the same idea to a foreign diplomat during an embassy reception. That could easily qualify under the new law as consulting a foreign organization on a subject directed against Russia's ‘constitutional order.’ And what if a person, after finding out that his fellow citizen has established a ‘suspicious contact’ with a foreigner or foreign organization, fails to inform the police or Federal Security Service in a timely manner about the suspected traitor? His failure to act would also make him guilty of high treason under the new legislation.”

How can one resist thinking about the Soviet Union under Stalin? In late 1930’s, many innocent people were killed as spies, as mentioned in (1). Referring to that period, Kiselyov  wrote:

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 “I can't help but be reminded of Dec. 1, 1934 -- the black date in Russia's history that marked the beginning of Stalin's Great Terror. That was the day Politburo member Sergei Kirov was murdered under circumstances that even today remain unclear. Kirov was Stalin's closest associate and the only person who could have become a serious rival for head of state under the right circumstances.

On that same day, a law was passed that made the legal prosecution of ‘enemies of the people’ as simple and powerful as a gunshot to the head: The investigation could last not more than 10 days; the list of charges was given to the defendant not more than one day before the trial; cases were heard in absentia, without the prosecutor or the defendant present; the verdict was final with no opportunity for appeal or clemency; and verdicts requiring execution were carried out immediately.

Of course, today's Russia is a long way from Stalin's repression. But it is obvious that the authorities are frightened by the scale of the crisis -- the financial losses, the sharp drop in industrial output and oil prices, the impending rise in unemployment, high inflation and the general social unease. It is equally clear that the authorities are considering various possible responses -- including harsh repressive measures against opposition speeches and protests by citizens.”

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There is a brave attempt to prevent the Duma from approving changes proposed by the government. But will it be successful? That remains to be seen. On a Russian website (2), I am reading an appeal, signed by twenty eight opponents of proposed legislation. They write: “we appeal to politicians and social activists, to civil servants and representatives of ‘ordinary people,’ and to intellectuals,the  to oppose the approval of laws which are, in spirit, Stalinist-Hitlerian. It is our right and obligation to appeal to people of Russian Federation directly, in order to stop another 37th year.”  The 37 is a reference to the height of Stalinist terror in 1937. Interesting observations, on the same subject, can be seen at (3).


1) Ludwik Kowalski, “Revisionist Historians,” December 20, 2008 in OpEdNews:

2) “Russian Jurisdiction Becoming Totalitarian,” December 18, 2008


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Ludwik Kowalski is a retired physics teacher (Professor emeritus, Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA). He is the author of two recently-published FREE books:

1) "Hell on Earth: Brutality and violence under the Stalinist regime" (more...)

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