The Russian government is loudly protesting after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called it “fascist” Wednesday during a hearing on Russia’s political interference in the United States. But the senator is standing by his analysis of the regime of Vladimir Putin.
“With the current fascist leadership of Russia enthusiastically undermining our democracy, America must defend the values that made us great, and aggressively confront this espionage and the enemies that sponsor it,” Wyden said during the Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing on social media influence in the 2016 U.S. elections.
In a statement to Russia’s state-controlled news agency, TASS, the Russian Embassy in Washington complained about Wyden’s characterization of the Russian system.
“It seems that yet another Washington lawmaker has said goodbye to adequacy,” the embassy said. “Did he understand what he was talking about? Or the only thing he was after was to attract attention to himself once efforts to force out evidence from those summoned for questioning are failing.”
The Russian Embassy said that the remark was part of an overall effort to “hide awkward facts by insults” and denied that Russia interfered in the U.S. political process at all. It said that Wyden’s “provocations” harm already uneasy U.S.-Russia relations.
“It’s high time for those here who prefer the tone of hucksters who unleashed World War II to get the message that Russia never interferes into the United States’ domestic affairs,” the embassy said.
In a statement to me, Wyden doubled down:
As the son of a family who fled Germany and lost members in Kristallnacht, I have spent my life knowing what fascism is and committed to resisting it at every turn. Putin’s use of state power to kill, jail and exile the press and political opponents, while attacking unpopular groups within society and promoting violence against them, has all the hallmarks of a fascist. We must not forget that the fascist regimes of the last century were elected governments.
Rather than dismiss the Russian espionage campaigns to sow division in our society and undermine our democracy, Americans must learn the lessons of the last century and stand up to these bullies. We will not allow democracy to be undermined by lies and propaganda sponsored by foreign powers.
Merriam-Webster defines fascism as “a political philosophy, movement, or regime … that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”
Sounds like Putin’s Russia.