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Shred the iron curtain
before it drops
Posted Dec. 1. 2006

Yelena Ovcharenko
LV Life Editor

Issues that reigned over Russia several years ago during the communist era are slowly beginning to creep into the country and advocates for democracy slowly see their right to free speech infringed by the government: Russian President Vladimir Putin is slowly beginning to raise his clenched iron fist over Russia.

The vibrant democracy of the ‘90s after the collapse of communism seems to be fading into a distant dream, rather than flourishing into a bright and promising reality. Today it seems that the country’s reformers are in short supply and that democracy is dwindling.

The parliament’s propaganda is seeping into the minds of many, and communism is slowly creeping in through the national media that the state controls.

Governors and upper parliament members are appointed by the government, not voted on, as independent candidates are annulled in parliament.

Additionally, laws are passed that give organizations less freedom and shift the flexibility and power to the government.

The murder of investigative journalist and reformer Anna Politkovskaya did not help the situation either. Many did not attend their heroine's funeral in fear of being accused by the government.

The Russian nation is slowly beginning to realize that “glasnost” is no longer a reality. It is becoming unacceptable to openly criticize the government and to demand justification of its actions. A turn to communism became more evident after the murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who accused Putin in the journalist’s death and criticized the actions of the government.

Litvinenko, a defector acquired many enemies through his criticism and refusal to comply with Russian authorities.

After receiving amnesty in Great Britain, he continued his campaign for Russian reformation.

On his hospital death bed in London Litvinenko lay poisoned from the radioactive toxin polonium 210, available only to personnel working in high security nuclear laboratories.

Unfortunately, British police have not found how the toxin entered Litvinenko’s body, even though traces have been found at the places that he visited on Nov. 1.

In his last few words before his death last week, Litvinenko blamed the government for his death. However, Putin denied all accusations and questioned the authenticity of Litvinenko’s statements.

Putin also expressed his condolences to Litvinenko’s family and friends and said that he hopes this unfortunate event will not turn into an exploded and over exaggerated issue.

A government spokesman said that the suggestion that Kremlin took a part in Litvinenko’s death is “sheer nonsense.”

He added that the Russian government has not committed any assassinations since 1959.

However, the question arises, why isn’t the Russian government doing anything to solve the crime? It seems to have shielded itself off without the desire to reveal the “truth” behind the matter.

There is no doubt that Litvenenko had an extensive list of enemies, but it does not give the government the authority to assassinate someone to maintain its struggle for wealth and power. Reform has to take place before the iron curtain of communism once again covers Russia with a totalitarian government that cares little about the opinion of its people.

Yelena Ovcharenko, a senior journalism major, is LV Life editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at yovcharenko@ulv.edu.