Putin’s Russia Worse than Soviet Union for Dissidents

Bloomberg has some interesting quotes from Oleg Orlov, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, and Sergei Kovalyov on the sidelines of a conference commemorating the 20th anniversary of Andrei Sakharov’s death.  Some of today’s human rights activists long for the days of the USSR, remarking that in the very least, there were fewer political murders:

While Russians today enjoy many more freedoms, there were “much fewer” killings of dissidents during the communist era, said Lyudmila Alexeyeva, 82, who was forced to emigrate to the U.S. in the 1970s because of her anti-Soviet views.

Kovalyov, Alexeyeva and Oleg Orlov, head of the Memorial human rights group, will receive the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought later this week in Strasbourg. Estemirova was a member of Memorial, which documents Soviet-era repression and human rights violations.

Orlov is appealing a Moscow court ruling ordering him to retract a statement that Kremlin-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov was to blame for Estemirova’s death. Legal pressure on government critics such as Orlov or billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in jail for more than six years, has replaced the Soviet gulag, said Kovalyov, who served time in prison camps for his opposition to the Soviet regime.

“The government of a country where political murders take place is always guilty,” said Kovalyov. “It turns out ‘criminals’ are behind the killings. Why do they always kill government opponents? Why do they love the authorities so much?”