President Vladimir Putin apparently owes a debt of gratitude to Amnesty International for making it easier for him to get rid of his pesky nemesis Alexei Navalny—a Russian opposition leader, lawyer, and anti-corruption activist who was poisoned last August, allegedly by Putin’s agents, and is serving two and half years in a corrective labor colony for slander.
Last Wednesday, journalist Aaron Maté tweeted that Amnesty International had stripped Navalny of his status as a prisoner of conscience.
New: @AmnestyUK withdraws designation of Navalny as a “prisoner of conscience.” In email, Amnesty says it’s “no longer able to consider Aleksei Navalny a prisoner of conscience given the fact that he advocated violence and discrimination and he has not retracted such statements.” pic.twitter.com/E9m0e6lzT8
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) February 23, 2021
Amnesty International declared that comments made by Navalny about 15 years ago, including a video that supposedly compares immigrants to cockroaches, were hate speech, and Amnesty just couldn’t classify him as “prisoner of conscience” any longer.
Earlier, Alexander Artemev, a spokesman for Amnesty in Moscow, told BBC the wave of requests that the group de-list Navalny was part of an “orchestrated campaign” against the dissident by the Kremlin, with the aim of silencing the calls for his release.
“We had too many requests, we couldn’t ignore them,” Artemev told BBC. According to him, Amnesty initially wanted to ignore those ancient statements by Navalny – which he has not repeated in recent years. But then they were bombarded by tweets by an RT Russian bot named Katya Kazbek—it’s a pseudonym according to BBC—who posted the old video and called Navalny an “avowed racist.”
It’s amazing how good the Kremlin is at the Cancel Culture thing. Why they’ve been canceling folks since 1917…
According to The Moscow Times, “it became more real when RT’s Editor Margarita Simonyan put out a triumphant tweet (in Russian), acknowledging that one of her puppet freelancers living in New York was instrumental in convincing AI that “he ( Navalny) is a Nazi.” The post ended with congratulations to everyone in uniform on the occasion of the Russian Defenders of Fatherland Day.”
“It was like the tweet read: ‘Great job, guys! Congratulations on the success of your mission. Perfect timing!'” The Moscow Times commented.
Margarita Simonyan is the editor-in-chief of the English-language television news network RT (formerly Russia Today) and the state-owned international news agency Rossiya Segodnya. Simonyan knows a thing or two about hate speech. On November 30, 2020, Simonyan, as editor in chief of RT, defended a TV segment in which her partner Tigran Keosayan chatted with an actress in blackface who suggested former President Barack Obama’s book A Promised Land was his great achievement because no one else in his family before him could write.
As to Amnesty, in a statement they issued last Thursday, the group acknowledged that, ancient video notwithstanding, “Navalny has been arbitrarily detained for exercising his right to freedom of expression, and for this reason, we continue to campaign for his immediate release.”
To which The Moscow Times’ Yevgenia Albats responded: “They say they are continuing to campaign for his release, but in the process they have reviled a person who was poisoned by the state, survived, woke up from an 18-day coma with no memory or ability to control his arms and legs, pulled himself together, flew back home, was detained, sentenced, put in solitary confinement and now shipped like a parcel post to some Godforsaken labor camp, where the inhuman, unjust and punitive Russian prison system will try to kill him again.”
“Hell of a job, Amnesty, congratulations! Putin and his entourage are grateful and won’t forget the favor,” Albats added.
Couldn’t have put it better ourselves, on many of Amnesty’s choices, really.