Russia has shown again how the dream of post-Soviet civil liberties has plummeted under the authoritarian ambitions of Vladimir Putin. On Wednesday, a Russian court sentenced a blogger to five years in jail for extremist views and advocacy. Terrorism? Religious fanaticism? No, Vadim Tyumenstev, 35, from the Siberian region of Tomsk, encouraged people to protest against corruption and high transport fares.
Local officials were incensed by the public discussion of their corruption and incompetence as well as his criticism of pro-Kremlin separatists in eastern Ukraine. Rather than refute the claims, they arrested him. The simply said that his call for people to attend a protest against the hike in local bus fares constitutes a call to overthrow the government.
It is a familiar approach in Russia from the Stalinist era. Of course, we must now just call it the Putinist era.