FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Man Who Should Be Dead

Photo by Анастасия Зотова | CC BY 2.0

Ildar Ildusovich Dadin is a hero.

He risked his life exercising his rights to free speech and peaceful demonstration in modern day Russia and paid for it with nearly three years in prison during which time he was tortured both mentally and physically.

Ildar Ildusovich Dadin is still alive. Yet many like him, journalists, activists, people of conscience, have wound up dead at the hands of the Russian state. Here are just some of the names of recent victims: Sergei Yushenkov, Anna Politkovskaya, Galina Starovoitova, Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, and, perhaps most famously, Boris Nemtsov. There are many more names that could be added.

Yes, the human rights situation in Russia is deplorable. Frequently, the Western media is wont to point out that business, criminal, political, and intelligence communities are one and the same. I think that this equation is warranted. However, let’s point the mirror towards ourselves and ask: “Is it not the same with us?”

As frequent readers of CounterPunch are aware, the nexus in America and Europe between organized crime, political enablers, interested business parties, corrupt media outlets, and the secret services is an old one. The West, too, then is not clean. Perhaps, though, they are just better at hiding it; more adept at using coercion/persuasion rather than resorting to the last instance: murder. Although such highly interconnected, well organized, and well funded elites would long since have been able to have their way without leaving a discernible print.

Is this to say that present day Russia and the West are the same? No. But it would be naive of us to think that there are no structural parallels in their day to day functioning. Political manipulation, media disinformation, criminal infiltration is at much at home in the West as it is in the East even though it may be, ironically, harder to prove.

This brings me back to a reassessment of today’s Russia and the case of Ildar Dadin.

Obviously we are not arguing that the situation in Russia is better than the West; in many aspects it is decidedly worse. However, I think it would be more appropriate to compare the current Russian situation not with that of an idealized West, as is promulgated by Western media, but rather to compare present day Russia to its past forms.

Compared to its totalitarian past, one could argue that Russia has made some progress, even on the human rights front. In the not too distant past, a person like Ildar Dadin would either be shot on the spot, or sentenced to death in a mock trial. In the Brezhnev era, conceivably, he would be under house arrest and would certainly be given little or no access to Western media. This, however small, is a glimmer of progress.

Yes, so that there be no mistake in interpretation, Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian dictator but he is an authoritarian dictator with relatively wide spread support among the population. This, in itself, is somewhat of a novelty in Russian history (As far as we can be certain, only Stalin enjoyed a similar level of widespread popularity and that during the war years).

Russia was a society in chaos in the 1990s. It can and has been argued that Putin prevented a much worse scenario of destabilization both domestically and internationally. In this sense, he is a transition figure from a strongly totalitarian past to what might in a generation or two be a much more open society. There have been changes in Russian society. Outside influences, diverging opinions, and access to alternative ways of thinking exist that would have been unthinkable 30 years ago. Authoritarian ways of existing cannot be overturned overnight; especially in a country like Russia with a long and specific history of despotic rule.

So, yes, Ildar Dadin is a hero in a changing Russia and he should be supported as much as possible by those in the West willing and able to do so. But for the moment, at least, Ildar Dadin is also alive which gives a gleam of hope that however dim, the light of peaceful dissent will continue to burn inside a tumultuous, transformative Russia.

More articles by:

November 20, 2018
John Davis
Geographies of Violence in Southern California
Anthony Pahnke
Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it
Maximilian Werner
Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation
Masturah Alatas
Undercutting Female Circumcision
Jack Rasmus
Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond
Geoff Dutton
Why High Technology’s Double-Edged Sword is So Hard to Swallow
Binoy Kampmark
Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange
Rev. William Alberts
America Fiddles While California Burns
Forrest Hylton, Aaron Tauss and Juan Felipe Duque Agudelo
Remaking the Common Good: the Crisis of Public Higher Education in Colombia
Patrick Cockburn
What Can We Learn From a Headmaster Who Refused to Allow His Students to Celebrate Armistice Day?
Clark T. Scott
Our Most Stalwart Company
Tom H. Hastings
Look to the Right for Corruption
Edward Hunt
With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?
Thomas Knapp
Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago
November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail