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Putin Arrests Santa and His Helper

by Christopher A. Ferrara
January 11, 2010

Meet Lyudmila Alexeyeva, an 82-year-old woman who was a prominent Russian dissident during the Soviet era, and who lived through the blood-drenched reign of Josef Stalin.

On New Year’s Eve, as Reuters reports, she and dozens of anti-Kremlin activists were arrested during a demonstration in Moscow, after “Hundreds of riot police surrounded a Christmas tree in the centre of the city and arrested the opposition activists as they gathered to defend their right to peaceful protest.”

Arrested at the Christmas tree were “a man dressed as Father Frost, the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus,” who was “dragged through the snow to a waiting bus.” Along with the Russian Santa, the Kremlin cops hauled in Alexeyeva, who was dressed as Snegurochka, “Father Frost’s female assistant in Russian fairytales.”

Santa’s helper was nonplussed: “I don’t know why I was detained... How could I possibly offer any resistance to anyone?” she asked.

Reuters notes that the demonstration involved a “coalition of opposition groups [that] organised the December 31 rally to defend their right to protest, as enshrined under Article 31 of the Russian constitution. Unsanctioned rallies are one of the few outlets for Russia’s weak and fragmented opposition.”

Few people recall that the Russian constitution under Stalin also guaranteed civil liberties, all of which were utterly disregarded by the man who R.J. Rummel, in his classic study “Death by Government,” ranks as the bloodiest dictator of the 20th Century, followed by Mao Tse Tung and Adolf Hitler.

But Putin is now attempting to rehabilitate none other than Stalin, orchestrating a campaign to “accentuate the positive” in the Stalin years. Putin, in fact, has installed a neo-Stalinist dictatorship in Russia, prompting his dwindling political opposition to decry “Putinism” as a softer form of Stalinism.

“Down with Putinism, Freedom to Russia,” shouted one protester from the window of the police bus on the night Santa and his helper were arrested. The term “Putinism,” observes Reuters, is a reference to Putin’s “major clampdown on civil liberties in Russia during his presidency from 2000-2008.”

Reuters notes the telling detail that Moscow City Hall denied permission for the anti-Kremlin rally because “it clashed with a rally by pro-Kremlin activists, who danced to holiday music as police made their arrests.” You see, there is freedom of assembly in Putin’s Russia — freedom to assemble in praise of Putin. And, of course, one was perfectly free to assemble in praise of Stalin even as he was in the process of committing what Rummel calls “democide” against tens of millions of Russian Christians, including five million Catholics in the Ukraine.

Reuters further reports that activists “shouted ‘shame’ as police detained several elderly people.” But we Catholics should be shouting “shame” at the de facto pro-Putinists within the Church, who dare to proclaim that the abysmal spiritual, moral, political and economic state of what Sister Lucy called “that poor nation” represents the “conversion of Russia” and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Perhaps they would change their tune had they been on that police bus with Santa and his helper on that frigid New Year’s Eve in neo-Stalinist Moscow.