Vladimir Putin has jailed a
promising filmmaker, a Ukrainian, for protesting against his 'illicit'
annexation of Crimea, a province that was part of Ukraine until last year.
Oleg Sontsov, 39, has been sentenced
to 20 years in prison for 'plotting arson attacks/attacks' on 'Russian'
interests in Crimea.
Well, we all know how it is.
Sentsov, like many others protesting
peacefully, in their own possible ways, amid a growing Russian interference in
Crimea, were helping the Ukrainian establishment there.
It is immaterial whether the
world knows who is Sentsov. What matters is Putinism has had no dents so far,
after Russian started facing financial troubles. Incarceration and prosecution
of people like Sentsov or members of Pussy Riot or Alexei Navalny or many
others or expulsion of the likes of Mikhail Khodorkovsky - Vladimir Putin has,
so far, effectively crushed the pro-democracy and anti-Putin voices.
And he has ruthless in his
Russia or the central, focal
entity of the erstwhile USSR, has been under firm grip of Vladimir Putin since
2000. And going by the years so far, Putin is not going to leave Russia. He was,
first, President for two terms. Then he became the Russian Prime Minister,
installing a puppet President, thus wielding the real power.
To perpetuate his grip further,
he manipulated the Russian Constitution and returned as President again, with
increased number of years to his tenure - 'his' tenure because Putinism looks
set to rule Russia as long as Vladimir Putin is there.
Russia initially revelled with
Putin. After all, he had taken the centre stage of Russian politics after a
prolonged political unrest that made the country's social-economic condition a
mess. Putin brought order. Driven by strong supply of 'oil and gas' money, Russian
thought, Putin pushed the country again to the league of forefront nations.
The source of that spirit started
drying up with global economic recession. Falling 'oil prices' started straining
Russian financial streams that gradually gripped the whole country.
And with it, Putinism started
unveiling itself. The 'liberator' of the Russian population soon found
'catalysts' to shed his 'revivalist' tag. And today, Vladimir Putin, is a
full-time dictator - strengthening his grip on Russia with each passing year -
crushing protests - removing/suppressing voices. And oil prices remained muted
all this while - dragging Russia in an economic situation where its 'heavily energy
export' economy had no alternative plans to cushion itself.
Oil prices are still low, and in
fact, are projected to slide down to historically low levels, with China slowing down.
But Putin is as busy in devising
ways to scuttle voices back home - as he was always. He tries to buy them. He
tries to co-opt them. He intimidates them. He silences them.
Annexing Crimea was an important
ploy that diverted Russian population's attention from growing economic
failures of his model - a haphazard mess that failed to work beyond a point. By humiliating Ukraine with snatching Crimea
from it, Putin bought some support back home.
But Putinism knows such measures
are not long lasting, especially when Russia is facing sanctions again -
coupled with already low oil prices.
So, he has to keep his fangs
sharp always - employing tools to further his dictatorial rule. Sentencing of
activists like Oleg Sentsov are just one from his stable.
And what emboldens him is the
fact that Russia may not be a big economy now, but it remains among the few
dreaded military powers of the world with a nuclear stockpile that can wipe out
the entire world.