Thu. Sep 28th, 2023


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Putin hunting for traitors ‘like in Stalin times’ as he sees enemies everywhere

2 min read

Paranoid Vladimir Putin is cracking down on traitors and dissenters at an unprecedented level, with his scramble to investigate individuals likened to "Stalin times".

There has been a record 82 treason cases so far in 2023, according to independent magazine Kholod. That is a four-fold rise on last year.

And between 1997 and 2017 there were just 101 treason cases all together, while in the first seven months of this year Putin’s authorities – notably the FSB security services – launched a whopping 82 cases.

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The figures confirm the suspicion that Putin is now seeing enemies everywhere on a scale not seen since the repressive Stalin era which lasted from 1928–53.

"If previously the group of risk included employees of defence enterprises, military personnel and scientists who had access to state secrets, now literally everyone can be accused of treason,” said the Kholod report.

“Even likes on Instagram and subscriptions on Telegram [messenger service] can lead to a criminal case.”

Lawyer Yevgeny Smirnov, from human rights project Department One, said: “Do not forget that the very content of the state secret is a state secret.

“That is, not a single person in Russia knows what exactly is a state secret and what is not.

“Each [government] department has its own secret lists of information that they do not show to anyone.”

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He said: “The FSB has picked up its pace [in 2023] — we get 20 criminal cases a month on average.

“At this rate, there will be about 250 [treason cases] by the end of December, one for every work day per year.”

One of the highest profile detainees is Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza, 41, who holds Russian and British citizenship, and who was imprisoned for 25 years for criticising Putin’s war and opposing his regime. He was also twice poisoned.

Russian politician and vocal Putin critic Alexei Navalny was sentenced by a court to 19 years in jail on Friday after being found guilty of extremism charges relating to the activities of his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK).

He is already serving a nine-year term for a variety of other charges and could face even longer behind bars.

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