“There is not much sympathy for the left,” he said, “so there is not as strong a reaction from the rest of the world as there would be if they went after a liberal. It’s a start, and then you can widen it.”
Joseph Kruzich, the U.S. Embassy media spokesman, told the Kommersant newspaper that the United States had taken note of “credible reports” from the UNHCR and Public Oversight Commission. “We have shared our concerns with the Russian government today and requested that they investigate this matter,” Kommersant quoted him as saying.The Russian Foreign Ministry responded, in a statement to Interfax, “We would recommend that our counterparts pay attention to well-known instances of torture in special CIA jails and to the detention of prisoners at Guantanamo for an indefinite time without trial or investigation, something that tramples upon all standards of international law.”
Putin’s spokesman said the Kremlin had no reason to comment. “It’s a case involving investigative bodies, prosecutors, judges, defense lawyers and human rights activists,” Dmitri Peskov told reporters.
Pastukhov said that Udaltsov frightened the Kremlin more than liberals did. “When you talk about democracy it only touches the elites,” he said, but Putin has been making populist promises about social benefits that will be difficult to deliver, given the nation’s finances. Udaltsov tapped into those aspirations, which touch millions, Pastukhov said.
“I can say fascism is no longer an abstraction,” he said, because government officials widely ignore the law. “It is becoming more and more concrete.”
Two feminist punk rockers went to prison for singing in a cathedral, an offense against good taste but not a crime, he said. Before that, Sergei Magnitsky was charged with theft after he accused officials of the crime. He died in pre-trial detention and then was charged with the crime again, two years after his death.
“The main problem is no one is protected,” he said. “You can destroy anyone’s life as long as he’s not stronger than you.”
The abduction reports, he said, reminded him of the case of Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London in 2006 of polonium poisoning after he fell afoul of Russian officials.
“I don’t see any big difference between the two,” he said. “They think they can act illegally against their opponents overseas, and no one will say no.”
Piontkovsky said now is the time for liberals in the Kremlin to stand up and for the West to make its displeasure clearly known.
“For them, it’s the last chance to swallow these fascist methods or stand up to them,” he said of Kremlin insiders. “They have stayed loyal to Putin in spite of everything, but without a split at the top, it will be very difficult to resist the regime.
“The next days and weeks will be decisive. Either abduction and torture will be more or less accepted by society, or it will be resisted. I’m afraid the liberals in the system will accept it.”