The Jewish Week writes:
… Russia, under the increasingly dictatorial President Vladimir Putin, continues its headlong plunge back toward the authoritarianism it supposedly abandoned with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Jewish groups like NCSJ, which advocates on behalf of the many Jews remaining in the former Soviet Union, say the signs are increasingly alarming.
Political parties are weak and getting weaker, the political opposition is all but nonexistent. Citizens used to vote for governors; now they’re appointed. A new rule regulating nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) is so broadly worded that it may have a chilling impact on all political advocacy.
Extremism and xenophobia are on the rise, unchecked by the Putin government. Not surprisingly, given Russian history, anti-Semitism is on the rise as well, although Jews are not now the primary targets of the Russian ultranationalists. Last week the Helsinki Commission, a U.S. government agency that monitors human rights in Europe, expressed alarm at rising violence against minorities, and called on Putin to take stronger action.
Recently Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking to a conference of Eastern European leaders, said that “In Russia today, opponents of reform are seeking to reverse the gains of the last decade,” and that in areas ranging from “religion and the news media to advocacy groups and political parties, the government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of the people.” …
What the Jewish Week fails to note is the help in crushing his opponents Putin received from Chabad. It also fails to note the growing realization within Chabad that Rabbi Berel Lazar‘s policy of cozying up to Putin has led to some very unwanted results.