In the summer of 1990, at a fulcrum moment when his country was tipping from reform to dissolution, Mikhail S. Gorbachev spoke to Time magazine and declared, “I detest lies.” It was a revolutionary statement only because it came from the mouth of a Soviet leader.
On the surface, he was simply embracing his own policy of glasnost, the new openness introduced alongside perestroika, the restructuring of the Soviet Union’s command economy that was meant to rescue the country from geopolitical free-fall. Mr. Gorbachev was wagering that truthful and unfettered expression — a press able to criticize and investigate, history books without redacted names, and honest, accountable government — just might save the creaking edifice of Communist rule.… Seguir leyendo »
Russia’s opposition activists are a dejected and fractured lot these days.
In February, Vladimir V. Putin passed a law making it possible to shut down any website at will — snuffing out the online presence of Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin’s biggest foe, overnight. Last week, Mr. Putin approved legislation that takes aim at all future Navalnys. The “Bloggers Law” forces the owners of any website receiving more than 3,000 visitors per day to register with the government, forfeit anonymity, and become legally responsible for the factual accuracy of their content.
It looks as if the Internet — one of the country’s last remaining enclaves for free speech — isn’t going to be available for much longer.… Seguir leyendo »
In his op-ed on Sunday, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger apologized for “undoubtedly offensive” comments he made 37 years ago about the fate of Soviet Jews, remarks that recently came to light with the release of tapes by the Nixon presidential library. But in trying to explain the historical context of his words, Kissinger presented a dismissive view of the Soviet Jewry movement as an ineffective irritant. This distorts the important role it played in the Cold War. The movement was a 25-year struggle to force the Soviet Union to allow the free emigration of Jews who were being discriminated against and robbed of their cultural and religious rights.… Seguir leyendo »
Late one summer night 40 years ago this month, Yosef Mendelevich, a young Soviet Jew, camped with a group of friends outside the Smolny airport near Leningrad. The next morning, they planned to commandeer a 12-seat airplane, fly it to Sweden and, once there, declare their purpose: to move to Israel, a dream they had long been denied.
Most in the group were pessimistic about their chances — but none more than Mr. Mendelevich. He felt sure they would get caught, but to his mind, a group suicide was preferable to a life of waiting for an exit visa that would never arrive.… Seguir leyendo »