I’ve spilled a good deal of digital ink here on RedState covering some of the worrying signs we’re seeing from Russia. The latest one is a law signed into effect by Vladimir Putin on Saturday that gives the Russian government the authority to shutter “undesirable” organizations. From an Associated Press report on the subject:
President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law Saturday giving prosecutors the power to declare foreign and international organizations “undesirable” in Russia and shut them down.
The law is part of a Kremlin campaign to stifle dissent that intensified after Putin began his third term in 2012. His return to the presidency had been accompanied by mass street protests that Putin accused the United States of fomenting. Russian suspicions of Western intentions have been further heightened because of tensions over Russia’s role in the conflict in Ukraine.
The Russians tell us that this law is only to protect against groups that threaten the country’s constitutional order, defenses, or security, but in the hands of an autocrat like Putin with a history of shutting down dissent, even if it means putting your critics in the morgue, we could easily see it used to close down human rights groups and those protesting Russia’s foreign policy. It also could be used against international groups, whether think tanks, rights groups, or other NGOs, working in the country along with Russian activists helping them. Essentially, it give Vladimir Putin the dictatorial power to crackdown on opinions he doesn’t like.
Why am I bringing this to your attention? Alongside Iran and China, Russia is, contrary to President Obama’s assertion during a 2012 debate with Mitt Romney, one of our three biggest geopolitical foes at the moment. Actions like this only push the seemingly inevitable clash between Russia and the American-led West closer, and the chief reason Putin is being so bold is that he knows the Obama administration will let him get away with it. Despite her recent troubles, Hillary Clinton is still easily the frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s 2016 Presidential nomination, and the issues with Russia are absolutely something we can use against her. After all, it was during her time at the State Department, including the infamous “Reset Button” that wasn’t, that the Obama administration’s policy towards Russia was defined.
As we approach foreign policy now and as we get closer to 2016, it’s actions like this that we need to keep our eyes upon.