When I was growing up this was the face of Russia. This is Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Seemingly every night Walter Cronkite, anchorman for the CBS Evening News, old Uncle Walter, covered a story about something sinister the Soviet Union was doing, invading some defenseless country, testing a nuclear weapon or executing a dissident. In Star Wars vernacular, the Soviet Union was the Galactic Empire and Brezhnev, and his eyebrows, its Darth Vader.
We think much has changed from the days of Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev but honestly, other than a name change, a re-branding, we have no idea what kind of business they are conducting. Russia is still a very secretive society under an authoritative rule. Countries are still invaded, weapons are continually developed and tested and dissidents are not only executed but murdered in cold blood on the streets. All this as our President gushes about his admiration for the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.
But it seems some citizens of the Russian Federation have grown tired of the corruption and Vladimir Putin. Led by Alexey Navalny, a Yale educated lawyer, political and financial activist, thousands of citizens protested recently in 100 cities and towns across the Galactic Empire. Navalny and it is being reported, 700 other protesters were arrested for disturbing the public peace.
What was the United States response? Nothing until Ben Sasse, the Republican junior Senator from the state of Nebraska, questioned why we were not commenting on the suppression of the Russian protesters. After that query the State Department released this statement; “The United States strongly condemns the detention of hundreds of peaceful protesters throughout Russia on Sunday. Detaining peaceful protesters, human rights observers, and journalists is an affront to core democratic values. We were troubled to hear of the arrest of opposition figure Alexei Navalny upon arrival at the demonstration, as well as the police raids on the anti-corruption organization he heads.”
“Strongly condemns”, “an affront to core democratic values”, scary stuff right? And with all this going on in Russia what was our President’s response, what was on his tweet mind? “Why isn’t the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech money to Bill, the Hillary Russian “reset,” praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax.”
From my vantage point we have something in common with the Russian people, a money-grubbing, narcissistic, ill-advised buffoon as a leader. Anton and Anastasia Popov want the same things for their family that Joe and Betty Smith want for theirs, opportunities to live in a country without suppression, cronyism or corruption. Maybe with different leadership the citizens of both countries can achieve those goals…..together.