Tens of thousands of people shouting slogans against Vladimir Putin protested in many cities across Russia in the bitter cold demanding that he release Alexei Navalny, his well-known political opponent. (He was sentenced on Tuesday to 2 1/2 years in prison.)
According to the Associated Press more than 3,800 protesters were arrested.
Mass demonstrations for the same reason took place last weekend, despite the authorities' efforts to prevent them.
Navalny, 44, investigates mass corruption in his country and is Putin's best-known critic.
He had taken refuge in Germany after being poisoned by Russian agents, as he claims, and returned to Russia after staying in Germany for five months until he was cured and recovered. German doctors also attributed his illness to poisoning.
On his return to Moscow, he was arrested at the airport and was imprisoned. His brother was also arrested.
This case, a few years ago, under other circumstances, would have caused an international outcry. The same should have happened with the imprisonment of hundreds of journalists in
Turkey – more than any other country in the world – and elsewhere.
But we do not live in normal times. As a result of America’s recent history, many things that would normally be spotlighted as anomalies and crimes are now taken for granted.
Ideas established by history as sacred, concepts for which rivers of blood were shed – such as freedom and democracy – have been devalued.
They have been distorted and weakened more easily than we could have imagined.
Even the truth – the gold standard by which acts are weighed, on which discussion is founded and through which comparisons and conclusions are made, and most importantly, on which Justice is based – has been damaged.
If the events that took place in America had happened in a country that historically trampled on traditions of truth and justice, perhaps we would not have noticed. If they had occurred in a developing country – from which they are expected to a greater extent – the impact would have been minimal.
But these assaults on truth, justice and democracy happened in the United States, and they
affect the whole world.
On the subject of Navalny, Anthony Blinken, the new Secretary of State, issued a statement in which he said, “the U.S. condemns the persistent use of harsh tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists by Russian authorities for a second week straight. We renew our call for Russia to release those detained for exercising their human rights, including Aleksey Navalny.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry rejected the statement as constituting "gross interference of the United States in Russia's internal affairs" and accused the United States of trying to destabilize the country.
The problem is that after everything that happened in the United States, and especially following the events of January 6 at and in the U.S. Capitol, America’s voice does not have the gravitas and the moral force it once had.
This is a huge loss, which we hope will be redressed soon, not only in the interest of the United States, but of the whole of the world.