Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Soviet tactics creak back

  • Print

Russia is about to host the Winter Olympics, welcoming thousands of athletes from around the world. But Moscow has quietly decided there is one person who cannot enter the country. The American author and journalist David Satter, who has been advising Radio Liberty and has written three books about the Soviet Union and Russia, was informed Dec. 25 that he would not be granted a visa.

According to Satter, the Russian authorities told him: "The competent organs have decided that your presence on the territory of the Russian Federation is undesirable." The "competent organs" is an old euphemism for the security services. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement claiming Satter had committed visa violations. Satter admitted overstaying a temporary visa by a few days but says that was caused by paperwork delays at the Foreign Ministry. It seems clear that Satter has been barred from entry because someone in the Russian power structure does not want him in the country.

He is not the first foreigner to be barred from Russia, although such actions against U.S. journalists have been rare. Even at times of great tension, post-Soviet Russia has generally given journalists, including this newspaper, access to the country. Russian presidents, including Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, might not have liked what they read in the foreign press, but for the most part did not exclude reporters. That is what makes the decision about Satter worthy of protest. It shouldn’t have happened, and we hope it will be reversed.

Satter’s views about Russia may have given Putin and his crowd heartburn. He has spoken out fiercely about the tragedy of Soviet communism and the chaotic, lawless years of the new Russia. Some of his statements we would not agree with; some we would. In a thriving and healthy civil society, even the most controversial and edgy arguments can and should be aired, at least so they can be examined and answered by others.

But Putin has not tolerated a healthy civil society. He seems enamoured of an age when unpleasant voices could be silenced. This was the conceit of the Soviet party-state: Books could be banned, dissidents silenced and borders closed. It was the work of the Soviet KGB, Putin’s onetime employer.

In today’s world, in the digital age, Russia has no borders when it comes to ideas and words. Satter’s work will be read in Russia, whether he writes from within or without. When Putin throws open the doors of Russia to Olympic athletes, he should welcome all those who play on the field of ideas and principles, including Satter.

— The Washington Post

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Wpg_Police_discuss_Red_River_search

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 070619 LIGHTNING ILLUMINATES AN ABANDONED GRAIN ELEVATOR IN THE VILLAGE OF SANFORD ABOUT 10PM TUESDAY NIGHT AS A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS PASSED NEAR WINNIPEG JUST TO THE NORTH OF THIS  SITE.
  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think food-security issues are an important topic to address during this mayoral campaign?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google