This is the Time for Russians…

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To stand up against Putin and simply say No.

No to Putin’s threat to invade the Ukraine.

No to Putin inventing the idea that the West wants to invade Russia.

No to Putin’s willingness to sacrifice Russian lives in the conquest of the Ukraine.

Ukrainians will not be intimidated by Putin.

They will fight for the right of their country to choose their path forward

Like Russians themselves should do.

Russians should say ‘thank you’ to Ukrainians for their courage to defy Putin.

This is also the time for Alexei Navalny, still in prison on Putin’s orders, to speak out on the importance of respecting Ukrainians’ wishes. No matter what bonds they may have with the Russian people, Ukrainians have made it clear they are willing to embark on a new path.

Let them be. Respect their choice.

This is the time to say

No to Putin’s blocking free elections in Russia.

No to his barring freedom of speech.

No to Putin’s wanting to stay in charge until 2036.

This is the time for a young leader, man or woman, to emerge in Russia, a fresh voice speaking on behalf of the future of their land, to say loudly that the country needs to step out of its isolation, that the country needs to open up to the world and be part of it, that Russia wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with other cultural, technological and industrial leaders of the world, confident as they should be that they have the brains and competence to do well.

Just imagine for a moment a Russia that is not led by a paranoid and controlling Putin, just imagine a Russia that on opening its borders makes itself attractive to foreign investments, just imagine the increase in productivity and in the standard of living.

There is a yearning in the breast of Russian citizens to be part of a changing world.

Putin stands in the way and uses violence to repress that yearning.

The Russian spirit should not give in.

The Russian mind should not bow to a man consumed with dreams of personal power.

Do not enable him by conforming.

This is the time to say No.

And it can be said peacefully. Just keep saying it.

Again and again. Until he steps down and then the spirit of freedom will sweep into that great land.

Say No to Putin and Yes for Russia to be a part of our new and changing world.

Please join us. The rest of us are waiting for your contributions. We need you and your creativity.

Please step forward and join the forces fighting for progress and against repression.

This is the time.

Oscar Valdes.   Oscarvaldes.net –  anchor.fm, apple and google podcasts and buzzsprout.

Are We Letting Putin Get Away With It, Again?

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Earlier today, Sunday, a jet fighter from Belarus forced a Ryanair commercial plane flying over the country to redirect to Minsk, the Belarus capital. The commercial flight had departed from Athens, Greece and was en route to Vilnius in Lithuania. 

The Belarus regime, surely with the consent of Vladimir Putin, set up the ruse that a bomb was aboard the commercial flight and so needed to land immediately at the closest airport. 

But the whole thing was nothing more than a plot to capture 26 y/o Roman Protasevich, a Belarusian activist who had helped set up a Telegram channel with 1.5 million subscribers in his country, so that people could continue protesting the fraudulent reelection of Alexander Lukashenko in 2020.

It is a profound failure of European Union intelligence to not have protected Mr Protasevich, to not have warned him of the possibilities of flying over Belarus.

Officials in the EU have raised their voices in protest and so has Antony Blinken, America’s Secretary of State, who demanded the immediate release of Mr Protasevich, but watch how Putin, emboldened by the manner in which he has handled Alexei Navalny’s poisoning and imprisonment, will dance around the issue claiming no knowledge of the affair and state that Lukashenko acted independently in an effort to protect the passengers from the alleged bomb.

And the strong likelihood is that he will get away with it.

Immediate and strong punitive measures are in order, both against Lukashenko and Putin.

The European Union has to step up and see this blatant attack on civil liberties as what it is and not find ways to delay action.

Something about the efficacy of the West’s response against Putin’s transgressions has been fractured since Mr Trump’s election in America.

The cracks continue to widen. 

I can hear Putin in his palace saying, ‘here’s to you, Donald. If you could launch an attack on the US Capitol, surely I can snatch a dissident from the skies. Good luck in the midterms. And count on me for the next election.’

Will the European Union muster the courage to stand up to Putin?

Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net

Alexei Navalny Must End his Hunger Strike

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Alexei Navalny, who’s been in prison since January after returning to Russia from Germany – where he was treated for poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok – went on a hunger strike at the end of March after prison authorities did not allow his family to visit him following his reports that he had developed back pain and loss of feeling in his legs.

The prison replied he’s receiving adequate medical care.

But two days ago, the Associated Press reported that a physician who reviewed lab results of Navalny’s brought to him by his family, says his blood levels of potassium and creatinine are elevated and puts the patient in danger of death.

Here’s the problem: Putin would not mind it one bit if Navalny dies.

But the Russian people would lose an important leader.

Supporters of Navalny should insist that he give up the hunger strike immediately.

There are fights that can’t be won and that is one of them.

The Russian people are not ready to go into an uproar if Navalny were to die now.

Much work remains to be done and for that Navalny has to be alive.

Who knows what will bring Russians out of the stupor they find themselves in, allowing a man like Putin to rule them since 1999.

But the movement that Navalny has led has been making progress, slowly confronting Russians with the denial they are stuck in.

His dying in prison won’t help.

Prisons are bad places. Who knows what kind of pressures Navalny is being subjected to by fellow prisoners at the behest of the government, which may have led to the hunger strike.

Navalny has to focus on staying alive, not gamble with his health.

His supporters need to act fast while there is still time.

The New York Times said yesterday that an open letter had been addressed to Putin by prominent personalities asking that Navalny be allowed the care needed immediately.

This morning, the Associated Press stated that demonstrations on Navalny’s behalf are planned for this weekend in Moscow and St Petersburg.

The hope is that Putin will acknowledge the request.

But there is a good chance he’ll drag his feet and, in the meantime, Navalny’s health will worsen.

I can imagine Putin in his private residence, sipping from a glass of fine wine, as he muses over the events, relishing his returning to the spotlight he so enjoyed while Trump was president.

Now Biden is getting all the attention.

‘And to think he dared call me a killer, on national television,’ says Putin to himself, referring to Biden, a feeling of bitterness rising in him. ‘And now they want me to be charitable with my enemies… their Trojan Horse… because that’s all that Navalny is, an American agent.’

He ponders the thought and then, smiling to himself, says ‘Dear Alexei… to think that I feared you would one day dethrone me.’

Putin long ago signed a pact with the Devil. He has aided the brutal repression in Burma, propped up Assad in Syria.

One day soon, the Russian people will awaken. Alexei Navalny has been trying hard to do that.

But he has to stay alive.

For that, he has to quit the hunger strike.

In addition to the letters of prominent people in his support, we must encourage the effort to have Navalny be pushed forward as the choice for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Alexei Navalny, with his enormous courage, walks in the steps of Andrei Sakharov, the Russian physicist and human rights activist who won the same prize in 1975.

That award did much to raise the consciousness of the world and prepare the Russian people for the change that followed when the Soviet Union collapsed on December 26th 1991.

Oscarvaldes.net

The Best of Russia is Now in Prison

Alexei Navalny, the courageous political dissenter, was just sentenced to a 3 ½ prison term for not complying with the terms of his probation, which he could not because he was in a German hospital recovering from an attempt to kill him with the poison Novichok, a nerve agent available only to government agencies.

Russian authorities deny any involvement.

Governments across the world have called for his release.

What has Alexei Navalny been asking for?

The freedom for the Russian people to elect who they want.

That is all. And for that he is being punished.

All he has said and fought for, while putting himself in great danger, is that Russians should have a right to choose who is to govern them.

Vladimir Putin, who has been in power since 1999, says No.

No, because he believes he knows what is best for Russians. No, because he likes being president very much – he is now in his 4th term – and he would miss the office if he has to step down. No, because he is convinced he has all the answers for his people and why bother with elections, it is such a waste of time and energy. 

Alexei Navalny has dared to disagree. He says Russians are afraid of Putin and insists there is no way forward for the country but to overcome their fears and challenge him.

Of course, Mr Putin could, at any time, take a different position and say that he is willing to face Mr Navalny in an election, and let all Russians decide. He might even win. Russians may prefer to see him be president for life. But that is not what we’re seeing. What we’re seeing is that he would rather not take the chance.

Is he afraid he might lose?

That Alexei Navalny has faced his fears and started a protest movement shows that he is a special person. People like him are a gift to their people and to the world. A gift because they have dared where others have not. So they ought to be supported because their courage will make for a better life for the rest of us.

While he is in prison, someone else needs to step front and take over the leadership of the movement he’s started.

Russians should not stay quiet. Alexei Navalny lives in every Russian.

And every Russian has to find a way to free the Alexei Navalny that lives in them.

We, in the Free World, must do what we can to stand in solidarity with our Russian brothers and sisters.

We, in the Free World, must do what we can to keep Alexei Navalny alive.

Oscarvaldes.net oscarvaldes.medium.com oscarvaldes@widehumr

Letter writers of the Free World. Speak up!

Open Letter to Vladimir Putin

It is imperative that the life of Alexei Navalny be spared. He has proven himself a man of great courage in daring to expose corruption in your country and in his willingness to challenge you and your party in elections.

Russia is underperforming as a nation and it seems obvious that the restrictions to free speech and enterprise that your government enforces are the direct cause of it. The challenges to development that the world faces need the contribution of all available talent. Russia has a long history of great accomplishment in science, industry and the humanities. The world needs those contributions.

As of today, Mr Navalny remains incarcerated. He should be freed. He should be allowed to lead his political movement and offer alternatives to Russians.

Why is it that you’re afraid of what Mr Navalny represents?

You think he might defeat you in the elections? Then that would be the expression of the will of the Russian people. Why shouldn’t Russians have a right to express themselves freely?

Mr Navalny’s recent poisoning with the chemical Novichok was intended to kill him. It is a miracle that it didn’t. You denied your government’s involvement but why haven’t the guilty parties been found?

Do you think that the world will forget? It will not.

In the minds of the free citizens of the world you stand as a symbol of oppression not of enlightenment.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way. You could change course. You could hold free elections and let Mr Navalny run against you.

Wouldn’t that be truly revolutionary? Putin versus Navalny for the presidency of Russia.

As it is, you are running out of time. Persist in your current course and history will not be kind. It will remember you as a symbol of political backwardness.

But change your approach and your nation will move to a new level.

Dare to open your country politically and what will follow will likely astound the world and we will all be grateful.

Thank you

Oscarvaldes.net / oscarvaldes.medium.com / oscarvaldes@widehumr

Letter writers of the Free World, please join me in writing to Mr Putin in defense of Alexei Navalny.