Russia's Ministry of Truth is locking people up

Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russia currently has two wars on its hands. One is the obvious military attack on Ukraine, but the other is a war on words taking place inside of its own borders. From the beginning of the invasion, Moscow has insisted that its “special military operation” in Ukraine was not an invasion, nor was it a war. The government insisted that none of its citizens use unapproved language when talking about the invasion if it had to be talked about at all. Not everyone has obeyed those rules, however, and the defiant individuals who have dared to talk about the atrocities taking place are being silenced in a very blunt fashion. People are receiving prison sentences of up to fifteen years while others have fled the country to avoid a similar fate. (Associated Press)

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Russian authorities kept up their crackdown against citizens who speak out about the fighting in Ukraine, extending a critic’s detention on Wednesday, confirming charges against two others and prompting Moscow’s chief rabbi to flee the country.

Russia adopted a law criminalizing spreading allegedly false information about its military shortly after its troops rolled into Ukraine in late February. The offense is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Human rights advocates have counted dozens of cases. Russians must use the term “military operation” when speaking of the fighting in Ukraine.

In the latest development, a Moscow court on Wednesday extended the detention of Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., a journalist and former associate of assassinated Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

In addition to journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza being locked up, he was “mysteriously poisoned” in 2015 and 2017. Of course, the Kremlin denies knowing anything about those unfortunate “accidents.”

Another Russian journalist, Andrei Soldatov, fled to London after daring to cover some of the Russian war crimes in Ukraine. He is now living in exile and says that his Russian bank accounts have been frozen. Pinchas Goldschmidt, Moscow’s chief rabbi, is now living in Israel after refusing to make public statements supporting the invasion of Ukraine.

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That’s certainly an effective way of preventing people from expressing thoughts not approved by the government or “wrongthink.” This is an actual Ministry of Truth in operation. We already know that President Joe Biden is very interested in establishing a similar operation here in the United States because he already tried it once. Thankfully, the effort was derailed after significant public outcry over the idea… at least for now.

We see this in social media and we see it in mainstream journalism. The people who are allowed to define what is truth and what is “misinformation,” even when you’re only talking about people’s opinions, immediately gain unimaginable power over public discourse and free speech. It’s a method of ending debate over topics that the power structure is uncomfortable having. If you want to raise questions over how certain aspects of counting ballots are handled or whether or not the federal government should be able to force you to undergo any given medical procedure, you can and will be silenced.

When that power is allowed to fall into the hands of the central government you wind up with what you are seeing taking place in Moscow right now. Such things tend to start slowly since nobody was talking about locking up people who questioned the vaccine mandates… yet. But you don’t need to look to Vladimir Putin to see how this plays out. Look no further than a short trip across America’s northern border. Justin Trudeau actually has had protesters locked up, particularly during the Freedom Convoy standoffs. So if you’re thinking it could never happen here, think again.

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John Stossel 5:30 PM | July 13, 2024
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