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Russia’s Gesture Toward NATO?

rogozin010908.jpgIt must get difficult to constantly think of new ways for Russia to demonstrate its new strength and independence internationally – one can run out of noses to thumb. As noted in today’s news blast, the latest gesture sure to test the sensibilities of Western diplomats and provoke knee-jerk criticism from the international media is Vladimir Putin’s nomination of Dmitry Rogozin of the controversial nationalist (and, as some say, xenophobic) party Rodina as Ambassador to NATO. But is that really the case? Despite Rodina’s rather odious and unsavoury anti-immigration policies and occasional hateful public comments, they could be arguably considered a persecuted political party, no matter how much many of us may disagree with their platform. Even before Yabloko’s Andrei Piontkovsky was put on this absurd trial for his government critical books, the new Law on Extremism was first put to its innovative repressive use against Rodina, banning them from participation in the 2006 Moscow City elections. Freedom of expression NGO Article 19 issued a statement saying “Although the broadcast [of Rodina] was certainly offensive, the total exclusion of this party from the normal political processes was a disproportionate response.” Isn’t it interesting that Russia’s new Ambassador to NATO once dropped the following devastating quote on the condition of the country’s democracy? Dmitry Rogozin: “The people now in charge of the Kremlin administration are rubbing out the results of 15 years of the new, democratic Russia. Russia is ceasing to be democratic.