August 20, 2012
GARRY KASPAROV: When Putin’s Thugs Came For Me.
Mr. Putin is not worried about what the Western press says, or about celebrities tweeting their support for Pussy Riot. These are not the constituencies that concern him.
Friday, the Russian paper Vedomosti reported that former Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann could be put in charge of managing the hundreds of billions of dollars in the Russian sovereign wealth fund. As long as bankers and other Western elites eagerly line up to do Mr. Putin’s bidding, the situation in Russia will only get worse. I hope that the chaos and outrage around the Pussy Riot trial shows Mr. Ackermann and others like him that Putin’s Russia is a very dangerous investment.
If officials at the U.S. State Department are as “seriously concerned” about free speech in Russia as they say, I suggest they drop their opposition to the Magnitsky Act pending in the Senate. That legislation would bring financial and travel sanctions against the functionaries who enact the Kremlin’s agenda of repression. Hit them where it hurts and expose them as the thugs that they are. Those who wish to help should pressure their representatives to pass such measures. If you live in a democracy you have a voice. Do not waste it.
Mr. Putin could not care less about winning public-relations battles in the Western press, or about fighting them at all. He and his cronies care only about money and power. Friday’s events make it clear that they will fight for those things until Russia’s jails are full.