Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A LOT HAS CHANGED IN RUSSIA. By Ghassan Kadi August 2103

A lot has changed in Russia in between the time that Aleksandar Solzhenitsyn defected from the then USSR to the USA, and the time Edward Snowden defected from the USA to today’s Russia.

The whole world knows that on the Russian side, the USSR is no more and the whole political scene is not one that it akin to Russia under Stalin. This change is one that is known and heavily elaborated on the pages of history. The change that is little spoken about is that change in the USA; if indeed there was one.

In the last couple of years, the USA has tried different ways to extradite Julian Assange, jailed and sentenced Bradley Manning, and now having a huge diplomatic fallout with Russia over the Snowden affair.

What is common between Assange, Manning and Snowden is that all three had something to say. What they had to say was deemed as dangerous to America’s security, or was it?

Once upon a time, free speech was meant to be the pillar of Western Democracy and part-and-parcel of the beating heart of whom is the United States of America.

On the surface at least, Solzhenitsyn seems to have defected from the USSR for the same reasons that Snowden is now defecting in the other direction.

The irony is that neither Assange nor Snowden believe that they will get a fair trial if they go to the USA. The recent sentencing of Manning is a testimony, a reminder that their sentence has already been decided long before their trial ever began or ever will. This scenario bears very strong resemblance with the Solzhenitsyn who knew well that he could not go back to the USSR.

Perhaps Obama’s decision to cancel his planned meeting with Putin during the forthcoming G-20 meeting in Moscow is not only so much about being upset with Putin’s decision to provide asylum to Snowden and for the role Russia is playing in Syria. It is highly likely that Obama is feeling very embarrassed to see the norms reversed and seeing American citizens seeking political asylum in Russia.

Perhaps this is the biggest change that seems to go unnoticed.

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