Spoiler: Kremlin’s “foreign minister” follows the commands of his puppet master. Lavrov’s statements remind of many exoplanets. Full of gas as close to facts as their distances to Earth. Lavrov’s pathetic ramblings of “orphaned territories” are manifestations of the anger the creatures in the Kremlin feel since millions of people became free when the brutal Soviet regime collapsed.
Putin hates democratic countries and their governments. Especially those that used to be shackled by the Soviet Union and now are democracies where people and also Russians enjoy human rights. Freedom is an ugly word in Putin’s vocabulary.
But it is not outside of Russia, with the exception of Belarus, and Moldavian and Ukrainian territories which are being occupied by Russia. In other European countries where Russians live, Russians are free to exercise their rights without fear of being beaten, killed or tortured.
“Orphaned territories” is how Lavrov’s disgusting comments were translated into English But as the legitimate Belarusian representation in Sweden states :
It’s even worse in Russian. The word translated here as “orphaned” (“бесхозный”) actually means ownerless/masterless. This is how Putin-Russia sees sovereignty of other European countries.
But do the “orphans” miss their masters? I don’t think so. As I pointed out in this post, Putin despises human rights. And, Human Rights Watchers’ World Report offers a gruesome reading in its chapter on Russia. Human rights defenders are persecuted, Freedom of Expression is attacked, people trying to exercise their constitutional rights to assembly are abused, and there’s no Freedom of Association since those who try are labelled as “foreign agents”. And the brave Russians who nonetheless insist on having human rights may end up in jail where the odds of being tortured are low.
Putin mourns the Soviet Union. For him, the collapse of the Soviet Union was the largest geopolitical disaster in the 20th century. In his “mind”, the 27 million Soviet citizens deaths in the WWII meant nothing in comparison to the freedom for millions of people when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991. So, let’s use some charts to see the effects of the largest geopolitical disaster in the 20th century. All charts are based on data from V-Dem and refer to 2020 which is the latest year with observations.
As Putin has made clear, there are a lot of Russians living outside of Russia. Around a fourth of Estonia’s and Latvia’s populations, and some six percent of Lithuanians are ethnic Russians. Contrary to what Putin, and his lap dog Lavrov want us to believe, civil liberties for Russians in the Baltics are very strong and light years from civil liberties for Russians living in Russia, c.f. Figure 1.
Figure 1. Civil Liberties in “orphaned territories” and Russia.
As you can see from the chart and which is well-known, not only Putin but also Lukashenka hate human rights. Lukashenka has been at power for a longer period in time, but Putin is on his way to catch up in crushing civil liberties.
In case you have a problem with authorities in your country or have a legal problem of other sorts, you would like to live in a country where courts and judges are impartial, non-corrupt and independent of the government and its executive branches or oligarchs and other nefarious well-connected people. You don’t want to live in Russia where you can be brought before a court and sentenced after your death as Magnitsky. Nor is Belarus a preferred location unless you like kangaroo courts which sentence you for exercising your rights to demonstrate peacefully.
But if you’re Russian and live in a Baltic country or other “orphaned territories”, you can be sure of getting your case heard and tried by an impartial and independent court, c.f. Figure 2.
Figure 2. Rule of Law in “orphaned territories” and Russia.
Freedom of Expression is a terrible thing in Putin’s eyes. The Human Rights Watchers’ chapter on Russia summarise it very well.
“The legislative crackdown that started in November 2020 intensified ahead of the September 2021 general elections. Numerous newly adopted laws broadened the authorities’ grounds to target a wide range of independent voices. Authorities used some of these laws and other measures, to smear, harass, and penalize human rights defenders, journalists, independent groups, political adversaries, and even academics. Many left Russia for their own safety or were expelled. Authorities took particular aim at independent journalism.”
But Lukashenka appears to be even worse. He has let his security service go berserk after the peaceful demonstrations following his rigged presidential election. Journalists who do their jobs and report about demonstrations and the brutal attacks from Lukashenka’s thugs, are thrown in jail. Meanwhile, Russians who live in “orphaned territories” are free to speak their minds, c.f. Figure 3.
Figure 3. Freedom of expression in “orphaned territories” and Russia.
Outside of Belarus and Russia, you don’t have to fear to be killed or thrown in jail. But political killings and torture are today’s specials on Lukashenka’s and Putin’s menus. Both Putin and Lukashenka kill opponents, journalists, and other people who they regard as thorns in their eyes. As pointed out on this blog before,critics, political opponents, and journalists are being killed whether on Russian or foreign territory. Putin doesn’t discriminate in that way.Belarus is the most dangerous country in Europe for media personnel. In this case, Lukashenka has caught up with Putin who was in the lead before the Belarus elections in 2020. Belarus and Russia have converged in political killing.
According to the V-Dem data, Lukashenka has a clear lead in torture. The response, to the peaceful demonstrations following the fraudulent elections last year, from the regime was brutal. Illegal arrests and detainments in overcrowded cells where people were savagely attacked by the riot police. The brutality has been testified by many for instance here, and here. Putin is not far behind as has been documented many times, for example here , and here. While, Russians outside of Russia or Belarus, face high risks of being either killed or torture due to political reasons, Russians living elsewhere are safe, c.f. Figure 4.
Figure 4. Freedom from physical violence in “orphaned territories” and Russia.
The indicator Freedom from physical violence is an average of the indicators Freedom from political killings and Freedom from torture.
However, being outside of Russia is no guarantee that you’re out of reach for Putin’s executioners. Litvinenko, and the Skripals are perhaps the most known victims. But let’s not forget what is going on in the Russian occupied Crimea and Donbas. Ukrainians are tortured in Ukraine as witnessed here (https://hir.harvard.edu/donetsks-isolation-torture-prison/).
““Izoliatsiia” is best known for its system of cruel physical torture which is applied to prisoners of all ages and genders. The most common method of torture is exposure to electricity. A newly arrived prisoner is immediately lowered into the basement, stripped naked, tightly taped to a metal table and connected to two wires from a field military phone. Then water is poured over the person and electric current is released. Among the prisoners of the concentration camp, one is considered to be lucky if the wires are tied to one’s fingers or ears. More often, one wire is connected to the genitals, and the second is inserted into the anus.”