Friday, 25 April 2014

Former Soviet dissident criticises Putin's regime in Prague

8 March 2013

Prague, March 7 (CTK) - Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky considers the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin the reincarnation of the Soviet rule but the opposition has hardly any chance of toppling him, Bukovsky has said during the presentation of his book in Prague.

"Some 3000 dissidents were sufficient for the entire Soviet empire, we have done our share. However, not even 100,000 people in the streets suffice to change the regime Thursday," Bukovsky, 70, told the Prague audience when he presented his book "And the Wind Returns" in a Czech translation on Wednesday.

Russia missed the opportunity to definitively cope with totalitarianism when both the then President Boris Yeltsin and the West stood up against an equivalent of the Nuremberg Trial (with German Nazi war criminals) after the unsuccessful communist coup in August 1991, Bukovsky said.

He added that the return of a modified version of the Soviet regime had been merely a question of time afterwards.

"The West has not understood that Putin is the continuation of the Soviet regime. (American president George) Bush Junior claimed that he had glimpsed Putin's soul in his eyes. I have got to know many chekists but I have never caught a glimpse of any soul," Bukovsky noted.

He hinted at the fact that Putin was called a "chekist" (officer of the Cheka former Soviet state security service) since he was a KGB Soviet secret service's agent.

However, unlike in the Soviet era, the West is more supporting opponents of the Russian regime now, Bukovsky said.

He cited the examples of a U.S. law imposing sanctions on the Russian officials entangled in the murder of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and the Westerm pop stars' reaction to the trial of women from the Pussy Riot punk band.

They were sent to prison for singing a prayer for the Virgin Mary to "chase Putin out" in a Moscow church, allegedly in protest against the Orthodox Church's growing influence on Russian politics.

"They were invoking Virgin Mary and Madonna answered them," Bukovsky said, jokingly.

However, the current opposition of Putin has ended up in a stalemate due to its own mistakes since it is forming small and squabbling political parties and is active basically only in Moscow and not in the provinces, such as the Far East, Siberia and the Urals where the future of Russia lies, Bukovsky pointed out.

Bukovsky won fame by his disclosure of the Soviet regime's abuse of psychiatry to silence its opponents.

He spent almost 12 years in Soviet psychiatric hospitals and prisons until the international pressure helped set him free. He was expelled from the country in handcuffs in exchange for Chilean Communist leader Luis Corvalan, imprisoned after Augusto Pinochet's coup in Chile in 1973.

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