Citizens of Portland and other US cities can look to the Russian city of Kazan for clues of how President Trump could use federal paramilitaries to intimidate political opponents and bolster corruption by Trump and his fellow Republicans.
Yesterday, masked Russian special forces with machine guns raided the United Democrats headquarters in Kazan, the eighth-largest city of Russia and the capital of Tatarstan. RFE/RL’s Russian Service reports:
In total, 16 detainees were taken to the police station. Among them was Yekaterina Petrova, the head of the Yekaterinburg branch of the Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International.
Petrova had been giving a seminar on how to investigate corruption in public and municipal procurement.
The meeting participants were accused of knowingly filing false reports about an act of terrorism — presumably, this refers to participants alleging corruption by local politicians. The detainees were eventually released, but this doesn’t mean the end of their troubles.
Vladimir Putin’s Russia is deeply corrupt, and political movements that attempt to expose the corruption are routinely dealt with via intimidation such as yesterday’s raids.
An earlier attempt to expose corruption was broken up by Russian federal authorities in 2017 by raiding the Kazan office of the NGO Open Russia and by ruling that Open Russia was an “undesirable” organization, effectively outlawing the group. Open Russia got the message and its deputy head (whose office was raided) soon left Russia.