Putin fuels Ukrainian sympathizers in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly signed new laws against “subversive activities” in a bid to silence criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Putin signed a law on Thursday mandating life imprisonment for those who provide “assistance in subversive activities,” undergo “training for the purpose of conducting sabotage activities,” or engage in “organization of a sabotage community,” according to a newly published report by the Institute for War Research (ISW).

The law also prescribes a prison sentence of five to 10 years for those found guilty of “participating” in a “sabotage community”. In addition, Putin is said to have signed a law that would punish private individuals who “desecrate” the symbol of Saint George, which is associated with the Russian military, with a hefty fine and up to three years in prison.

Vladimir Putin Russia-Ukraine War Ukrainian sympathizers ISW
Members of the Russian National Guard are pictured near the Kremlin in Moscow October 20, 2022. The inset shows Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Monday meeting in Saint Petersburg. Putin reportedly signed two new laws on Thursday aimed at silencing “Ukrainian sympathizers” in Russia.
NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP; Contributor/Getty Images

“The Kremlin continues to manipulate Russian law to give the state ever-expanding powers using vague language to eliminate dissent and threaten Ukrainian sympathizers,” the ISW report said.

“These laws follow a series of Russian policies that target the remnants of the Russian opposition and increase Kremlin control over Russia’s already limited information space under the guise of preventing Russians from ‘discrediting’ the military,” it said .

Shortly after the war in Ukraine began, the Russian government passed a law that attempted to stifle dissent by criminalizing the “spreading of fakes” about the Russian military. Many were prosecuted under the law, and some anti-war Russians were subsequently sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

The laws Putin signed into law on Thursday came just days after the ISW reported that Putin was “likely concerned” about a lack of support for the war among Russian elites.

The report cites a Christmas Day interview with Putin in which the Russian president claimed that 99.9 percent of Russians are “ready to sacrifice everything for the motherland.” In the same interview, Putin complained about the small number of Russians who “don’t behave like real patriots”.

ISW suggested that Putin’s “instant criticism of some members of society suggests that he is focusing on those who do not fully support the war, rather than those who do.”

Meanwhile, since February’s invasion, a number of prominent Russian critics of the war have died under mysterious circumstances.

This week Pavel Antov, a war critic and member of Putin’s United Russia party, was found dead after reportedly falling from a hotel window in India. His friend Vladimir Bidenov was found dead in the same hotel two days earlier.

news week has asked the Russian government for comment.

https://www.newsweek.com/putin-turns-heat-ukrainian-sympathizers-russia-1770280 Putin fuels Ukrainian sympathizers in Russia

Rick Schindler

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