In an address on Wednesday to the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin claimed Russia has become “the last island of freedom” in the world because the United States is “dying” and “everything has been canceled out.”
“Where is labor movement? Where is the socialist party? Where is the once-strong communist party? Nowhere, just like there’s no free media in Ukraine,” Volodin said of America in 2021. The Russian speaker’s jibe combined a rather offbeat definition of “freedom” with a smear at Moscow’s rival Ukraine, which recently banned three television stations owned by a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the stations were “propaganda financed by the aggressor country” Russia.
The Moscow Times noted Wednesday that however poorly the American Communist Party might be faring at the moment, the Russian Communist Party certainly disagrees with Volodin about Russia being the last island of freedom in the world:
Volodin’s assertion comes 24 hours after Communist Party lawmaker Valery Rashkin declared that the country’s current political climate to be “far worse” than the Soviet political repressions in 1937 known as the Great Terror.
Rashkin’s broadside, accusing the Kremlin of fabricating criminal cases against political opponents and urging supporters to attend street protests next week, drew an immediate rebuke from Volodin.
“You need to realize that accusing the country of terror as a State Duma deputy means you yourself are implicated,” the Open Media news website quoted the State Duma speaker as saying Tuesday.
Generally speaking, islands of freedom do not fabricate criminal cases against the political opposition or accuse people of being terrorists because they accuse their oppressive government of acting like a terrorist organization.
Russia is consistently ranked as one of the most unfree nations in the world by international human rights activists. Freedom House, for example, gives it a rating of 20 percent free overall, and only five percent in political freedom. Freedom House also ranks Russia near the bottom in its index of Internet freedom, with an overall score of 30 percent. Reporters Without Borders ranks Russia 149th out of 180 in the world on press freedom. Many of these observers worry that various forms of freedom are slipping in the United States, but none of them would claim the U.S. has declined to anywhere near Russian levels of oppression.