Free Speech In Russia Not Free, Unless For Putin

Several days ago, a few hundred human rights activists once again tried to demonstrate in public in support of the basic principles of free speech, but they shortly encountered the forces of Prime Minister Vladmir Putin who believes in unlimited free speech — for those who agree with his ideas, that is. Sergei Obukhov, a Deputy in the Duma rose to discuss attacks y police against people who were openly expressing their ideas in a peaceful manner. His microphone was switched off by deputies of the ruling United Russia party who do not enjoy having the halls of parliament demeaned by such acts as criticizing forces of the government who are merely carrying out their duties to maintain law and order for those who decide what is law and order. The federal human rights ombudsman, Vladimirj Lukin said he was preparing a report for President Medvedev which discusses the basic principles inherent in the right of free assembly.

Opposition deputies are requesting the Lukin report to be presented to the Duma and time set aside for a frank discussion of its ideas. Prime Minister Putin was given a document describing violent actions against human rights groups. Putin said he would not act on what is contained in the report because “they were simple statements of facts which do not require a reaction.”

No comment on the Putin comment.