As a first generation Australian with two Russian parents, I have always found myself trapped between two ideologies – the east and the west
My mother and father spent a large chunk of their lives in Soviet Russia, living through its collapse and the turbulent transition to capitalism led by Boris Yeltsin.
When Vladimir Putin came into office, it was seen as a turning point for the country. A potential for stability brought by the hope that Russia could convert to resembling a Western nation.
While watching state television news, I was entranced by Putin. I was mesmerised by the propaganda that was fed through censored journalism and faked approval ratings.
More than 20 years later and Putin is still in power as the democracy that was once promised, continues to creep further out of reach.
What was once a presidency full of possibility, it now has mutated into what some call – a dictatorship
This has bled into various sections of life from business to education, where corruption is rife.
Journalism has been one crucial industry impacted by the changing landscape of Russia, with press freedom gradually deteriorating through the silencing of journalists.
For independent journalists this has meant being labelled as “foreign agents” for any funding received from international organisations including small donations.
Putin insists that the Foreign Agents law works in favour of preserving the transparency of companies.
“I’m sure our people, who are taking the money, are honest and kind but those paying them, as a rule, are guided by an agenda of trying to restrain Russia – that’s the problem,”Putin says
The president compares his country’s laws to the U.S, who has imposed similar legislations since 1938. He says Russia’s are more lenient as they do not ban companies from operating.
“These organisations do keep working and functioning, however they are required to report if they are engaged in internal political activity and receive funding from abroad, nobody’s rights are being infringed here whatsoever.”
Independent news channel, Rain TV labelled a ‘Foreign Agent’ as The Kremlin presses down on vocal journalists
Dozhd (TV Rain) is an independent news channel that has gained over 2 million followers since it launched in 2010 and one of the first Russian news organisations to report on the protests against the alleged rigging of the country’s parliamentary elections, but in August it was labelled a foreign agent.
Dozhd Editor-in-Chief Tikhon Dzyadko says the event was “very humiliating” for him as he views himself as a “patriot”.
He says “this legislation is to punish opponents” and to make “people afraid of speaking up”.
“We are completely sure that everything we have been doing for and with Rain TV, we have been doing for the good of Russia and Russians,” says Mr Dzyadko.
“Because a lot of young people, they do not watch the TV, they don’t watch the propaganda. They use YouTube, Telegram, TikTok, Instagram, other major platforms, and the problem is that there are two different realities.”
He says the gap between the government and independent media continues to widen with the foreign agent label highlighting “that our enemies are the state”
This comes amid the increasing silencing of journalists, with Novaya Gazeta newspaper fined on Wednesday for failing to properly label “foreign agents” in their news coverage.
The safety of media personnel is constantly threatened with Russia being the most dangerous European country for journalists.
Between 1992 and 2021, 58 journalists died in Russia, with 38 of them murdered, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
When asked why he chooses to stay within the country, Mr Dzyadko says he spent two years in the U.S. but is too deeply rooted within Russia to migrate.
“Everything I have, everything I know, is here and I want my kids to live in this country, and my goal is to make the life here better,”
“Of course it’s not very comfortable now, of course it is very unstable, but at the same time, I see that we have millions of our viewers here in Russia for whom it is very important that we’re reporting from Moscow because these people want this country to be better as well.”
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Trump’s campaign tactic – debase and disgrace the legal process
Donald Trump, former president of the United States, hated Arraignment Day I in Manhattan two months ago, the first time a former president had been criminally charged.
Trump was being forced against his will into a proceeding he had utter contempt for. He was being arrested and fingerprinted and photographed under an indictment under the jurisdiction of Manhattan in New York City for allegations of hush money payments and fraudulent bookkeeping practices to conceal criminal activity. Trump heard the charges read out against him and he entered a plea of not guilty.
Trump had a terrible day. Trump wore a scowl throughout. His countenance was fearsome. What Trump hated most about his arraignment in New York is that he had to sit at a table with his counsel side by side with him — equal to him — and with the judge above him looking down on him. Trump could not control the discussion and could not interrupt to make his points.
Trump was subordinate to the judge. He was subordinate to no one as president.
Arraignment Day II
Arraignment Day II in Miami will be worse from Trump, even more stressful. The charges are substantially more serious: the alleged violation of federal criminal statutes involving the alleged mishandling and illegal possession of classified documents, lying to legal authorities, and obstruction of justice. Potential penalties run to years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.
Trump throughout his business life had always crafted his affairs to avoid being a defendant. But in his term in office, he was caught up in it big time. He was a defendant in two impeachment trials – again, unprecedented events – and left office in disgrace.
But Trump does not feel disgraced. He never does. Trump does not have a reverse gear. He never retreats. Never admits. Never concedes. Never yields. Trump is never embarrassed. Trump never feels ashamed. When something goes wrong, it is always the fault of someone else.
Bill Barr SLAMS his former boss:— Republicans against Trump (@RpsAgainstTrump) June 11, 2023
“He’s not a victim here. He was totally wrong that he had the right to have those documents. Those documents are among the most sensitive secrets that the country has…He had no right to maintain them and retain them”pic.twitter.com/VViNFpwbzt
And Trump never repents.
Trump can feel this way because Trump is waging war on behalf of his armies in “the final battle” for the future of the county. In his first, fiery post-indictment speech in Georgia, Trump said, “They’ve launched one witch hunt after another to try and stop our movement, to thwart the will of the American people. In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you … “Either we have a Deep State, or we have a Democracy…Either the Deep State destroys America, or WE destroy the Deep State.”
It is a powerful formulation, and his true believers love it.
Hours later, In North Carolina, Trump mainlined his distilled message for the Republican crowd:
“We are a failing nation. We are a nation in decline. And now these radical left lunatics want to interfere with our elections by using law enforcement.
It’s totally corrupt and we cannot let it happen.
.@RepDanGoldman: "Donald Trump believed the law does not apply to him, and that he would do anything he could to conceal and maintain possession of highly, highly classified national security information that would jeopardize our national security." https://t.co/IfX8bV4EVk pic.twitter.com/Gvjv8aNFkn— The Hill (@thehill) June 11, 2023
This is the final battle.
With you at my side we will demolish the Deep State.
We will expel the warmongers from our government.
We will drive out the globalists.
We will cast out the communists.
We will throw off the sick political class that hates our country.
We will roll out the fake news media.
We will defeat Joe Bide and we will liberate America from those villains once and for all.”
Any lesser mortal would be staggered by these events. Any other presidential candidate would be driven from the race. But not Trump.
Debase and disgrace
Trump is using the same playbook today as he successfully triggered after being charged in New York: debase and disgrace the legal process by terming it completely political. Trump said the federal indictment is “election interference at the highest level.”
Almost every other Republican running for president has adopted this line, insulating Trump from pressure to leave the field.
Trump’s chief opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said after these indictments: “The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation.”
Republican congressperson Nancy Mace: “This is a banana republic. I can’t believe this is happening.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: “Democrats are arresting their political enemies. and they work together in their corrupt ways to get it done.”
Trump is using his affliction to raise millions of dollars from his base.
Trump will likely face Arraignment Day III in Georgia in August. A state prosecutor is expected to charge Trump with criminal interference in the certification of Georgia’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
As of now, there is no sign of cracks in Trump’s support among Republican voters. There is no surge to another candidate. What remains to be seen is whether Republican voters, as they see Trump spend his days in courtrooms and his evenings at rallies around the country, reach a conclusion that this is a spectacle too far, too much to bear, and that they want to turn to another conservative populist who stands for them in the political trials— and not the criminal trials – of 2024.
Donald Trump’s legal woes will serve him well
It’s not often that a U.S. President faces federal indictment, but if it’s going to happen to anyone, it might as well be Donald Trump first.
The news that Donald Trump is facing a federal investigation over the removal of secret documents from the White House in 2021 came as no surprise.
Keen watches of the Washington soap opera have seen this playbook before, albeit in a different form.
There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a Washington outsider. But as seriously damaged as he may be (thanks to the events of January 6), his support base has only grown whenever he faces scrutiny.
For his supporters, his legal woes mirror their own relationship with the government – a giant, unfair beast that picks and chooses its fights.
Trump is accused of storing sensitive documents—including those concerning matters of national security—in boxes, some even in a shower.
The documents were seized last August when investigators from the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.
The Department of Justice has historically avoided charging people who are running for public office. Whether they should do that is a debate for another day. But it’s happening now. And it’s making it all too easy for Trump to claim there is a concerted campaign to get him away from the White House.
Trump exposed the deep state. IF they exist, they probably don’t want him back in power. Whether they exist doesn’t matter really, because plenty of Trump’s supporters agree with him, and believe the secret state is working against them. Call it QAnon, call it a conspiracy – it doesn’t matter in a democracy.
The DoJ now has to go all in. Failing to secure a conviction would be a serious embarrassment for the department.
This is the second time Trump has been indicted in recent months, yet the opinion polls show he only increases his popularity among MAGA and Republican voters. It leaves the Republican party in a difficult position. Support their leading candidate or support the law?
As other Republicans rallied around the embattled candidate, Trump held on to his loyal base of supporters.
For the Democrats, and for Biden, another reality will soon sink in – if Trump becomes President, and they lose office next year, how will a Trump-run DoJ deal with them?
Broadly, the tit-for-tat one-up-manship of U.S. politics is breaking tradition and potentially breaking the country.
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