On Monday, the opposition movement Solidarity presented its finalized report on how Russia has fared over the ten years of Vladimir Putin’s tenure in power. The pamphlet, entitled “Putin. Results. 10 Years,” includes forty-eight pages of analysis of the actions and policies of the former president and current prime minister, with topics ranging from corruption and crumbling infrastructure to population decline and the collapse of the pension system. The war on terrorism and the volatile situation in the North Caucasus are also discussed at length, as is the problematic nature of preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea city of Sochi. A short concluding section is dedicated to current Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.
The document was written by two of Solidarity’s co-leaders, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and former Deputy Energy Minister Vladimir Milov. As Nemtsov puts it, the pamphlet is meant “to tell the truth about the results of the rule of Putin and the tandem,” as the relationship between the prime minister and president is commonly referred to.
Immediately after the authors presented the report, its host website was hit by DDOS hacker attacks that rendered it completely inaccessible. Then, on Tuesday, police in St. Petersburg seized 100 thousand copies of the published report, a tenth of the total million that were printed by the organization.
Police seized pamphlets criticizing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the eve of a high-profile business forum showcasing Russia, opposition leaders said.
St. Petersburg police confiscated 100,000 copies of a new report on Putin’s decade in power co-authored by Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, said Olga Kurnosova, head of the local branch of the opposition United Civil Front.
Kurnosova and Nemtsov contended that police were trying to keep the 32-page report [in PDF form; 48 in MS Word form – ed.] from the public and visitors at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which started Thursday.
“The police had the task of preventing the distribution of the report during the forum among its participants and citizens,” Kurnosova said.
St. Petersburg police declined to comment.
Police held the driver of the vehicle that was delivering the pamphlets for several hours, Kurnosova said.
She said police told her that they had sent the pamphlet to be checked for evidence of extremism — a tactic that opposition politicians say authorities sometimes use to stifle criticism — and that the check would take two or three days.
Nemtsov has co-written several reports highlighting corruption and other problems that he contends have gotten worse since Putin was elected president in 2000.
On Thursday, Nemtsov wrote on his blog that another 100 thousand copies of the report had been confiscated from the printing house by Federal Security Service (FSB) officers:
Instead of arguing with the theses in the report, denying the basis of the theses, they decided to show their effectiveness by acting in a Putin-like manner. Grossly violating citizens’ right to information, they decided, like in the good old days, to liquidate the opposition’s literature.
The reason is that facts and figures of the true results of Putin’s rule are laid out in the report. They tell us that they’ve built an effective state, while in fact, the level of corruption has reached monstrous proportions (on the level of the most backward African countries) in these ten years of rule. They assure us that the birth rate is rising, and that the death rate is falling – as a matter of fact, under Putin, Russia has been losing half a million people per year. They tell us that he has gained victory over the oligarchs and poverty – actually, there are more than 60 billionaires in the country, and 20 million poor. They tell us that Putin has pacified the Caucasus and gained victory over terror – as a matter of fact, in the ten years of his rule, the number of terrorist attacks has risen six times, and the regions of the Caucasus, receiving many millions in subsidies, have wound up outside of the Russian legal realm.
This is the truth that, in Putin’s opinion, Russians mustn’t know. This is where the actions of the security officials come from.
While distribution of the pamphlet started in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Solidarity is planning to release copies of the report all over Russia. For now, and especially given that police have apparently seized 1/5 of all of the printed pamphlets, the organization is encouraging citizens to print their own copies and distribute them in samizdat fashion.
“Putin. Results. 10 Years” is available in Russian by clicking here.