The recent elections in Russia were marked by widespread evidence that opposition parties were denied access to the media while those supporting President Putin such as United Russia had plenty of money and exposure on state television. Nataylya Morar, who is from Moldavia, was told at the airport that “You are banned from entering Russia” on orders of the Federal Security Service. Ms. Morar published an article in The New Times of Moscow, entitled, “The Black Till at the Kremlin” which charges President Putin had access to a secret slush fund in order to provide money to his favored political allies. This money was used to ensure victory for his United Russia party in recent elections. She is now one of over two dozen journalists who have been banned from Russia for writing the wrong type of stories. The Russian Journalist Union denounced the expulsion: “It is double standards and a classic political punishment when a person who lives in Moscow, writes for a Moscow publication and is a professional journalist is expelled from Russia on the basis of some unclear order from Lubyanskaya.”
This expulsion is merely one more example of a modern Russian tragedy– Putin’s fear of discordant views. Vladmir Putin is undoubtedly the favorite politician of a majority of Russian voters. He can readily win any election, but he has an inordinate dread of allowing those who oppose him to have free access to the media or to engage in a fair election with him. This fear most probably traces back to his training as a member of the Soviet secret police–the KGB– when any opposition was met with violence. When will he learn that fair elections benefit him?