Russia's Deja Vu

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Russia's Déjà Vu? Journalist Cathy Young left Moscow in 1980, as a teenager, with a reaction that all the talk of reform and glasnost (openness) was just a "cosmetic gloss for Western consumption." However, years later and more than 5 trips back to her former homeland changed her idea about Russia. Whatever happened in Russia, good or bad, there was no going back to the old days the Cold War, "enforced ideological conformity, a docile press, and pervasive fear of the powers that be." True, Cathy Young thought, but with so many events nowadays, Russia has increasingly evoked a grim and queasy feeling of déjà vu. She has a feeling that Russia's future is looking frightening like its past. The reappearance of the old Soviet anthem was one factor and the restored red Soviet banner as Russia's military flag was another of her many evidences to her opinion.

Under Putin's presidency, he pushed through a proposal to adopt the old Soviet anthem as the new Russian anthem, with updated lyrics. The red Soviet banner, albeit without hammer and sickle, was restored as the Russian flag. Even though there are freedom and press, the red flags are also visible. Russia's only independent television station, NTV, was taken over by Gazprom, the stat controlled energy giant. This was supposedly because of "financial mismanagement", but the real political motives were obvious said Cathy Young. "NTV has been brought to heel despite promises to maintain its distinct political voice." Privately, many Russians say the "old habits of mutual mistrust and fear of saying the wrong thing in front of the wrong person" are already coming back. The loyalist press, opposition leaders and activist who criticized Russian policies were "attacked as dupes or paid lackeys...

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