Former world chess champion and current Russian opposition leader Gary Kasparov has been arrested by the Putin regime, several media outlets are now reporting. A synopsis and links from Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy:
Back in 2001 – at a time when George W. Bush was still assuring us that Putin was a “good man” because he had “see[n] into his soul,” Kasparov sounded an early warning about the ex-KGB President, noting that “Putin’s KGB roots have informed a style of governance that is neither reformist nor particularly democratic” and that Russia’s government was sliding towards authoritarianism by suppressing opposition media and playing on nationalistic fears. Since then, Putin has suppressed nearly all opposition electronic media, and probably connived in the murder of print journalists who had criticized the regime.
Kasparov’s arrest is not only an outrage in its own right, it is significant as an indicator of Putin’s willingness to further tighten his authoritarianism. If Putin is able to get away with arresting even a world-famous opposition leader, less exalted opponents of the government can expect even harsher treatment.
Read the entire post, along with links to more details, at the link above.
This is a stunning and daring move by Putin. Kasparov is a national hero who has been a leading spokesman for democratic reforms since the fall of the Soviet Union. Having spent several years unsuccessfully attempting to negotiate a return match for the title he lost some time ago to Vladimir Kramnik, Kasparov formally retired from competitive chess to become a full-time activist. If Putin can indeed arrest Gazza with impunity, he has completed the return to a Soviet-style police state.
UPDATE 9:42 p.m.: The Australian News.com is reporting that Kasparov was fined roughly $40 and released.
That’s good news, but it doesn’t mean the “all clear” has been sounded. Putin may have been gaging world reaction to the news for future reference. Being arrested and taken away has a long and fearful history in Russia.