Following on the heels of Russia's lightning-annexation of Crimea (in what some on the peninsula are calling a “Russian Spring”), a new domestic policy has emerged. In lockstep with the opinions voiced by President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin seems to be on the hunt for “traitors,” “fifth columnists,” and any other “hostile elements” that dare to disrupt the smooth, neo-Soviet consolidation of Russian society.
Two days before Putin addressed the nation, a referendum in Crimea delivered a 96 percent result in favor of the peninsula breaking loose from Ukraine to become Russia's new federal subject. Despite the fact that the vote violates Ukraine's constitution (which requires a nationwide vote on secession), annexation seems all but a done deal.
Meanwhile, failure to toe the party line on Crimean annexation or other state policies is rapidly becoming as risky as dissent in the Soviet era. New legislation is being considered which would punish media that publish material deemed “anti-Russian,” treating such journalism as tantamount to crimes against the state. And some lawmakers have petitioned to evict fellow Duma members who dared vote against ratification of Crimea's annexation.
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